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So your children can tell 
their children. 

Published jointly by the Columbia County Bicentennial Commission and 
the Columbia County Historical Society 

Copyright® 1976 



Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania 17815 

All Rights Reserved 


A traveler before the Revolutior\ coming to the mouth of the Catawissa 
Creek on the North Branch of the Susquehanna River pronounced the 
view the most beautiful he had ever seen. He almost surely did not have 
the opportunity of viewing the scene from the Catawissa Outlook as is 
afforded us in this picture. The view includes the stretch of the river 
where it courses through the Catawissa Narrows, with the gently rising 
area of Bloomsburg in the background, 
color photograph by David K. Shipe 


Orangeville, nestled at the foot of Knob Mountain, marks a site of early 
settlements, Indian depredations, and an important point on Indian 
trails. The picture also shows a sample of the beautiful scenery of the 

photograph by author 


Table of Contents 

Preface v 

Prologue vii 

Indian Trade Goods x 

1 . Pioneers and Indians in Our Susquehanna Valleys 1 

2. The Revolution — The Opening Years 19 

3. The Revolution — The Closing Years 33 

4. Pioneer Settlements Resumed After the 

War for Independence 47 

5. The Columbia County Region in the 

Early Eighteen Hundreds 67 

Epilogue 101 

Interesting Origins of Some Local Names 105 

Bibliographical Notes 110 

Index Ill 

Gleanings from the Author's Card File 116 

Colophon 118 


The present work is the attempted fulfillment of the decision of the 
Columbia County Bicentennial Commission to publish a history of the 
county's region in the period of our country's War for Independence. The 
county's early pioneer history was also to be covered. Generally the 
period will be from 1768 to 1800, but without rigidly applying these time 

During this period the region was part of the outer edge of the 
Western Frontier. This frontier needed to be defended. It was attacked at 
a number of points, one of which was in the upper valleys of the Susque- 
hanna River, of which our region formed an important segment. The 
larger battles were fought nearby with supporting actions in our area. 
These actions by their very closeness are of interest to us, the bene- 
ficiaries of their struggles and achievements. 

The wartime struggles and pioneering activities of those early years 
in our region are samples, with local variations, of what was going on up 
and down the whole length of the western frontier. Let us learn about 
them and we will know better the forces that built our whole country. 

As commissioned author, I have endeavored to discover all sources of 
information and give them proper study. I have especially endeavored to 
discover and utilize eye-witness accounts of the personal experiences in 
tragedies and achievements of the people who laid the foundation of our 

In acknowledging help, I regret that my loyal wife and helpful critic is 
no longer with me to accept my gratitude. A number of persons as part- 
time secretaries have been helpful through the years in various ways. 
More immediately working with me on this manuscript, in order of 
length of service, are: Melissa D. Gratton, Donna A. Ohl, and Paula R. 
Welliver. More than meticulous transcribers, they have read the 
manuscript critically and share in whatever merits it may have. 

Dr. John E. Bakeless, besides extending encouragement through the 
years, has channeled invaluable source material, which otherwise might 
not have been found. This help is acknowledged with special thanks. 

Mrs. Emma H. Burrus, Dr. Craig A. Newton, Dr. C. Stuart Edwards, 
Mrs. C. Stuart Edwards, and Dr. James R. Sperry have given the 
manuscript, or parts of it, critical reading followed by constructive sug- 
gestions and encouragements. Dr. Newton and Dr. Sperry have further 
aided by reading galley proofs. 

Mr. John L. Walker advised on the final details of publishing and 
marketing the book. I am deeply grateful to all. 

The Library of the Columbia County Historical Society has been 
especially helpful. Also helpful have been the Andruss Library of the 
Bloomsburg State College, the Bloomsburg Town Library, and the 
Library of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. In- 
cluded also in my thanks are the offices of the Registrar and Recorder of 
the Counties of Columbia and of Northumberland, for the courtesies 
extended . 

The continuing support from the Columbia County Commissioners, 
from the Columbia County Historical Society, and from the Columbia 
County Bicentennial Commission is also gratefully acknowledged. 

A number of persons have aided with drawings as indicated at 
appropriate places. To these I render appreciation. I acknowledge, with 
special appreciation, a number of drawings based on research provided 
by Joan L. Romig. 

In spite of efforts to avoid mistakes, errors of commission or omission 
may be found; for these I accept full responsibility. 

Edwin M. Barton 



In celebrating the bicentennial of our country's founding, it is a help- 
ful coincidence to keep in mind that it is also just about two hundred 
years ago that our region, the upper valleys of the Susquehanna River, 
was emerging from obscurity to join in the history of our nation. Prior to 
this time, the region had been Indian Country, controlled at the time of 
Columbus and of the first settlements of the English, by a powerful tribe 
of Iroquoian Indians, the Susquehannocks. They became involved in 
bitter warfare with the English and the Five Nations of Iroquois of New 
York. At first, as indomitable foes, they maintained an unequal fight, but 
finally disease, as well as battle losses, led to their defeat and final, com- 
plete subjugation. This happened just a few years before the coming of 
William Penn, in 1682. 

The Iroquois, as conquerors, exercised control over all the unsettled 
parts of the Susquehanna valleys as well as areas far beyond. In the 
exercise of this control, other conquered or dispossessed tribes were en- 
couraged to settle in the conquered lands, some in our region. As re- 
corded by a missionary in 1758, others, especially the whites, were not to 
settle: "They (the Five Nations) settle these New Allies on the Frontiers of 
the White People and give them this Instruction. 'Be Watchful that no 
body of the White People may come to settle near you. You must appear 
to them as frightful Men, and if notwithstanding they come too near, 
give them a Push; we will secure and defend you against them...'."^ 

During this period of the Iroquois as overlords of our region, a 
number of tribes or portions of tribes left their names at various places. 
The Nanticokes, from the Maryland region, settled for a time where they 
have given their name to modern Nanticoke. 

A related group, the Conoys, or Gangawese, were mentioned by 
Captain John Smith as resident in the Chesapeake Bay region (1608). 
Living near the Piscataway Creek, they were sometimes known also by 
that name. In their considerable migrations, some of them are mentioned 
as having lived briefly at Catawissa. 

The Tuscaroras, an Iroquoian tribe of the CaroHnas, after having 
been weakened by conflicts similar to those which destroyed the Susque- 
hannocks, petitioned the Five Nations to join their confederation. This 
was granted. They migrated in the course of a number of years through 
Pennsylvania, leaving their name in a number of places. Finally, in 1714, 
they joined the Five Nations, which thus became the Six Nations of the 
Iroquois Confederacy. 

The Shawnees seem originally to have been living in what is now the 
eastern parts of Kentucky and Tennessee. They migrated, or some of 
them did, into Pennsylvania and lived at varying times along the 
Delaware River, at Shawnee Flats on the site of modern Plymouth, and 
at other places. In passing up the Susquehanna, the Shawnees may have 
been resident in the vicinity of the mouth of the Fishing Creek for some 

"The Delawares: Physical Appearance and Dress. " 

Wallace, Indians in Pennsylvania, p. 16; courtesy of ttie Pennsylvania Historical and 
Museum Commission. 

The Delawares originally called themselves the Lenni Lenape, and in- 
habited New Jersey and the Delaware River Valley. At one time they 
were proud to be given the name of an English leader. Lord Delaware. 
After repeatedly having been treated unfairly and compelled to leave 
lands that were successively promised to them, they became hostile. One 
division of the Delawares, the Munsees, in their successive migrations, 
gave their name to modern Muncy, also the city Muncie, Indiana. They 
are noted as living at, or in the vicinity of, the Forks of the Susquehanna, 
at Shamokin. They, with some Shawnees, were the dwellers in the upper 
Susquehanna valleys when the first whites settled. There is no estimate 


available as to the size of this shifting and changing Indian population at 
any one time. 


Diagrammatic Map 



Often referred to as the 



Mohawk River 

Mohawk River and Valley 

Confluence of the 

Mohawk River with 

the Hudson River 


of the 




to the 


Tenders of the 

Central Council 




to the 


of the 


After 1711 at the South 

on the "Cradle Board" 

Susquehanna River valleys - several Indian tribes in varying 
regions as assigned by the Iroquois 
Wallace, Paul A. W., Indians of Pennsylvania, p. 89. 

In 1764, a period of over sixty years of intermittent warfare vs^as 
brought to an end. These wars had pitted England against France; English 
colonists against the French colonists; and the Indian allies of the English, 
the Iroquois, against those siding with the French, the Delawares and the 
Shawnees. The latter two tribes had grievances because of various land 
deals by which they had been treated unfairly or defrauded. In these wars 
the French were defeated and gave up their claims to lands in North 
America, including Pennsylvania. Indians not willing to accept defeat, 
formed a confederation and fought a brief but threatening continuation 
of the war, known as Pontiac's Rebellion. When this confederation was 
defeated, a treaty was negotiated at Fort Stanwix, now Rome, N.Y., by 
which the Iroquois sold to the Penns, Proprietors of Pennsylvania, an 
enormous strip of land stretching irregularly from the northeastern 
corner of Pennsylvania to its southwestern corner. This was in 1768. It 
was called The New Purchase. With the exception of a small strip at the 
southern end of Columbia County, previously purchased, it included all 
of our County. 

1. Christian Frederick Post, 
Pennsylvania, p. 105. 

"Observation," quoted by Wallace, Paul, Indians in 


Indian Trade Goods 

By the time of William Penn, the Indians had been in contact with the 

Europeans for half a century, probably more. Their manner of life as 

stone age people had been changed profoundly as can be seen by the 

following list of articles which had come to be desired by the Indians. 

These trade goods by which the whites purchased lands or traded for furs 

were highly important articles of commerce for both the Indians and 

Europeans for many years through Colonial days into our National 


350 fathoms of wampum, 20 white blankets, 20 fathoms of 

strawdwaters, 60 fathoms of duffields, 20 kettles, (4 whereof large,) 

20 guns, 20 coats, 40 shirts, 40 pair stockings, 40 hoes, 40 axes, 2 

barrels powder, 200 bars lead, 200 knives, 200 small glasses, 12 pair 

shoes, 40 copper boxes, 40 tobacco tongs, 2 small barrels of pipes, 40 

pair scissors, 40 combs, 24 pounds red lead, 100 awls, 2 handsfull 

fish-hooks, 2 handsfull needles, 40 pounds shot, 10 bundles beads, 10 

small saws, 12 drawing knives, 4 ankers tobacco, 2 ankers rum, 2 

ankers cider, 2 ankers beer, and 300 guilders. 

From William Penn's treaty with the Delaware Indians, 1682, quoted by Martin and 
Shenk, Pennsylvania History as Told by Contemporaries, p. 35. 

"Far above the river winding, " From Bloomsburg State College former 
Alma Mater. 

North Branch of Susquehanna River curving to enter the Cataioissa 

The confluence of Fishing Creek with the River, concealed behind the 
foliage in the lower left comer, was long considered to be at the southern 
limit of the Connecticut Claim, and as such a significant landmark. 
photo by author 


Pioneers and Indians in 
Our Susquehanna Valleys 

Conflicts and Their Causes 

The Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768 was an important turning point in the 
history of our Central Susquehanna Valley lands. With the French rivals 
having been previously defeated, these lands were now, by this purchase 
from the Iroquois, brought under the rule of Pennsylvania authorities. In 
this situation, the Indians, chiefly Delawares, but other small groups 
also, were to move farther west, although they did not by any means all 
do so at once. The fur traders were soon to follow the Indians, seeking 
areas where fur-bearing animals had not been so nearly killed off. The 
area became open to Pennsylvania settlers, or so it seemed at the time. 
But actually, terrible events were in the making. Connecticut people laid 
claim to the northern part of Pennsylvania and endeavored to settle it. 
Conflict with bloodshed resulted. Within seven years, the War of the 
Revolution was to break out. These two conflicts were intermingled and 
both involved our region. And many Indians, bitter in being compelled 
to leave lands previously awarded to them, fought against the settlers, 
bringing destruction and loss of lives to these valleys. These struggles as 
they affected our region will now be explained. We will look first at the 
coming of the pioneers. 

Earh Explorations in the North Branch Country 

Long before 1768, information about the Susquehanna lands had 
been growing. Fur traders journeyed deep into the Indian Country. They 
reached the Forks of the Susquehanna at an early date. Not many such 
persons have left records, but James LeTort was an Indian trader in- 
volved in this trade and was often used as an emissary to the Indians. The 
following letter records some of his activities and gives more than a hint 
of events on the then distant frontier among the Indians. 

Catawasse, May ye 12, 1728 
We always thought the Governor knew nothing of the fight be- 
tween the Shawaynos and the White People. We desire the Gov- 
ernor to warn the back Inhabts not to be so ready to attack the 
Indians, as we are Doubtful they were in that unhappy accedent, 
and we will use all Endeavaurs to hender any Such Like Proceeding 
on the part of the Indians. We remember very well the League be- 
tween William Pen and the Indians, which was, that the Indians 
and white people were one, and hopes that his Brother, the present 
Governor, is of the same mind, and that the friendship was to con- 
tinue for three Generations; and if the Indians hurt the English, 
or the English hurt the Indians, itts the same as if they hurt them- 
selves; as to the Governors Desire of meeting him, we Intend as 
soon as the Chiefs of the Five Nations Come to meet the Governor, 
we will Come with them; but if they come not before hereafter, we 
will to Philadelphia to wait on the Governor. We have heard that 
William Pen Son was come to Philada., which We was very 
Glad of. 

James Le Tort^ 

Conditions Before the Settlements 

What a glimpse this letter gives of conditions in our valleys when they 
were the "back" country. There were fights between the Indians and the 
"back inhabts." Le Tort was writing to the Governor, reporting negoti- 
ations with the Indians as with a powerful nation, which they were, and 
was being sent to them as an emissary. At this time when he was desig- 
nated a fur trader, he was located in "Catawese" region. And how did 
these people called "back inhabts" come to be inhabiting country still 
acknowledged to belong to the Indians? 

Early Explorations 

In the forty years, and more, following this letter, travellers and 
traders, such as those referred to by Le Tort, continued to push their ac- 
tivities into these as yet unopened lands, including those later to become 
Columbia County. Missionaries visited various tribes, endeavoring to 
convert them to Christianity, succeeding to some extent. Friendly Indians 
acted as guides. The soldiers defending the frontier learned of these 
lands. They must have told prospective settlers about them. The con- 
fluence of the North and West Branches of the Susquehanna, then called 
Shamokin, was an increasingly important base of operations for all of 
these elements, traders, Indian travellers, missionaries, and frontiers- 
men. Representatives of the Pennsylvania government journeyed to the 
councils of the Indian overlords of this region. The Iroquois confederacy 
in New York could, and undoubtedly did, give descriptions of these 

lands, for this region was of necessity traversed. Fishing Creek at the 
River was actually noted in some of the journals, for it was a well known 
landmark. These journeys and exploratory trips increased with the pass- 
ing years. After these lands had been brought into full possession of the 
Proprietors by purchase from the Indians, explorations and surveys were 
commissioned. Some of these journeys will be told about as we get into 
details of settlement. ^ 

Learning!, Further About the Frontier Lands 

The Proprietors of Pennsylvania, the sons of William Penn, had 
earlier sent exploring parties into the region of the "New Purchase." Trips 
must have been made by canoes up the larger streams, and overland with 
pack horses at other places. Explorers went up Fishing Creek, passing 
Knob Mountain into Huntington Creek. Catawissa Creek, as well as 
lesser streams, must have been included. The falls and rapids of Roaring 
Creek immediately above its confluence with the river, together with the 
rugged country beyond, made access difficult so that its upper valleys to 
the south must have been approached overland.^ 

Purchasing Land in Colonial Pennsylvania 

When the King of England in 1681 gave William Penn the Charter of 
Pennsylvania, it was in settlement of a debt owed to Penn's father for ser- 
vices rendered when the latter was an admiral in the King's navy. Penn, 
having received these lands, then expected to sell them to actual settlers. 
Furthermore, Penn insisted on buying these lands from the Indians as 
illustrated in the New Purchase, noted in the Prologue. To sell lands, 
Penn and his sons set up a land office. Would-be settlers would be re- 
quired to find out in a general way where a section of land was located 
as, for illustration, one mile above the mouth of Fishing Creek. The 
amount was expected to be about 300 acres. Such a location would have 
been learned about by a trip to the desired land, or from travellers, ex- 
plorers, fur traders, or soldiers, in their military expeditions. On the 
basis of this information, an application would be filed. Then a survey 
would be ordered. Now the purchase could be made at the rate of fifteen 
pounds per three hundred acres. An annual quitrent payment of a penny 
per acre, approximately two cents, was also required. This was when a 
laboring man working by the year might earn fourteen to twenty pounds 
with "meat, drink, washing and lodging." By the day he might earn the 
equivalent of twenty or thirty cents of our current money. '^ 

The Surveyors and the Conditions under Which They Worked 

The early surveyors usually went out in the spring, staying through 
the summer. Their duties were to survey the tracts of land which had 

been applied for. The surveyor's party consisted, in addition to himself, 
of a chainman to measure distances with a marked chain, and a rod man 
to hold a rod to mark points as they were established, along with other 
needed helpers. The surveyor himself used a sighting instrument to direct 
the work of establishing the property lines. Occasionally a shelter might 
be found, but usually it was necessary to set up a tent for sleeping. Here 
also the surveyor made his calculations and prepared his maps. Food was 
prepared from supplies carried with them, supplemented by fish or game 
that might be secured. At earlier times, dangers included hostile Indians. 
At later times, they might encounter unauthorized persons who had gone 
into the wilds to make settlements. Such persons looked with hostility on 
surveyors whose reports would show that they had no rights to the land 
they were occupying. Wild animals might also be encountered, including 
the dangers of the poisonous snakes. We in our time can hardly realize 
the hardships and dangers of the surveyors in the unmapped woodlands. 
There were no roads, few paths. Settlements were few and far between, 
many large areas with none at all.^ 

Who Would Want Wilderness Lands and Why? 

Cheap lands, even if uncleared of their generally dense forest cover- 
ing, attracted hundreds of pioneering people to the Susquehanna valleys, 
as they did to other areas. This was happening in 1768 and the following 
years. Such pioneers came from Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsyl- 
vania, from New Jersey, from Connecticut, and from the "old country", 
as the home lands in Europe were called. American lands, previously 
settled and subjected to the wasteful farming practices for fifty or sev- 
enty-five years, had become less productive. They could not support 
adequately the families living on them. Often these lands were aban- 
doned and their former occupants searched for new lands. The large fam- 
ilies of those days resulted in further demand for unsettled lands when 
the many sons and grandsons had grown up.^ 

Causes for Immigration 

Political oppression and economic hardships which had caused 
Europeans to migrate earlier to the new colonies continued to cause 
many ship loads of immigrants to come to America in later years. Since it 
was easier and less expensive to acquire land under the Penns than in 
other colonies, a large share of the newcomers came to Pennsylvania. 
Many having left conditions of hardship in England, Germany, and else- 
where, were unable to pay the ship owners their passage money. These 
people sold their services for a period of years to meet these obligations. 

They were called indentured servants* or redetnptioners. In effect, they 
were slaves for a period of the agreement, usually averaging about four 
or five years. Besides the large numbers of farmers who got their start in 
the New World by being redemptioners, there were many skilled crafts- 
men, carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, and masters of other trades. All 
would be needed on the frontier. A redemptioner, when his term of ser- 
vice was completed and he became fully free, would accummulate 
savings from his wages or from what he might earn from his craft. With 
these he would be able to buy lands that were opening on the frontier 
from time to time.^ 

The Speculators and the Sale of Lands 

Observing the demand for frontier lands, wealthy people in Philadel- 
phia, as well as elsewhere, saw the opportunity for buying up frontier 
lands and then selling them to the actual settler at markedly higher 
prices. Such people are land speculators, at that time also called land 
jobbers. Speculators had money of their own to use in speculation. The 
Penns had intended to sell farm size plots of approximately 300 acres to 
individuals who would themselves settle on the lands.** Speculators, 
however, generally evaded these restrictions. A speculator would have 
members of his family or his friends buy additional plots with money fur- 
nished by him and then transfer the plots to him. In this or similar ways, 
speculators acquired hundreds of acres of land, in some cases, thousands. 
In many cases more land was acquired than any one individual could pay 
for. In such cases money was borrowed. 

Financial Risks 

The large amounts of money required for such extensive purchases 
were not the only expenses. Even before any prudent person would have 
made a purchase, he would have explored the land after a long and ex- 
pensive journey, or as was more often the case, he would have paid 
others to make the explorations. After the purchases had been made, 
there were other expenses due every year, the quitrents and the interest 
on the borrowed money. These were small for one year, but accummu- 
lating year after year on unsold land, they became more and more 

*The agreements for these terms of service were written in duplicate on one sheet of 
paper and then cut or torn apart so that the edge was jagged or irregular, an indented 
edge. The matching edges would show at a later time that the two sections were dupli- 
cate copies. Servants thus working under such an agreement were called indentured 
servants. By working his full term, the agreement was redeemed arid the worker might 
be called a redemptioner. 

"This amount of land would be about half of a square mile, or a square about .7 mile 
on a side. Students might find it helpful to compare this amount of land with their 
school campus, or their father's farm. 


W*^B.RA,NT DATtp Apr. 3. \^69 TO Hester Ba^rton On 
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Vi'aw.r^nt DA,Tct> JuMt. n<i9 TO rRA,N<:is STi:w!\«rr. In 
mz p^xtNTEPTo James Hfi Ci.urk..Sr. - BLoonsauao. 
VVa,RR*,ht oA^rito Apr. 3 n&9 to John Spohn. Was 
pa^tkntep FEB.,ne'»TO MiCMAEi- Bright l(S.ter 
T10 Leona^bp Rupert - Montour Twp. 

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village n2e-54. 

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3- JanKins. BuilT in im. 















IN laso. Q 

The L. E. Wilt Historical Map of Columbia County, 1941 
Used with Permission of L. E. Wilt. Revised by Edwin M. Barton, 1976 

Wilt Legend, Revised 

Columbia County organized March 22, 1813 

Name taken from Joseph Hopkinson's song. Hail Columbia, so popular 

during War of 1812. 

First settler, exclusive of squatters, probably John Eves, 1770, on Little 

Fishing Creek. 

Then followed Evan Owen, Thomas Clayton, John Doan, John 
Webb, Peter Melick, George Espy; George Espy at or near confluence 
of Fishing Creek and North Branch of Susquehanna River. At Cata- 
wissa or vicinity, Ellis Hughes. William Hughes laid out Catawissa, 
first town, 1787. On or about same time, Evan Owen laid out 
Berwick. Mifflinville, first known as "Mifflinsburg," laid out 1784. 

Berwick settlements began about 1790 when Evan Owen took up resi- 
dence there. Bloomsburg laid out 1802. 

Oldest Church, Catawissa Friends Meeting House about 1788 or 1790. 

First Iron Furnace erected by John Hauck in Maine Township, 1815, then 

part of Catawissa Township. 

First mill constructed at Catawissa, 1774. 

Construction of North Branch Canal begun at Berwick, July 4,1826. 

First child, it is claimed, was James McClure, Jr., born 1774. 

Liberty, later Espy, laid out on or about 1800. 

Additional Early Settlers 

Isaac John 1772 
Cornelius VanCampen 1773 
Samuel Hunter 1774 
Alexander McCauley 1774 
William Hughes 1774 " 
George Espy 1775 
Joseph Salmon 1775 
Samuel Boone 1775 
Michael Billhime 1775 
Daniel Welliver 1775 
Daniel McHenry 1783 
John Cleaver 1783 
Abram Kline 1785 
Abraham Dodder 1786 
Peter Brugler 1788 

Leonard Rupert 1788 

Peter Appleman 1790 

Benjamin Coleman 1791 

John Godhard 1792 

William Hess 1792 

Alexander Mears 1794 

Lewis Schuyler 1794 

John Brown 1795 purchased lot 

John Lyon 1796 

Ludwig Oyer (Eyer) c. 1796 

Jonathan Colley 1796 

Samuel Cherrington 1798 

Jacob Lunger 1800 

John Rhodeburger 1805 

Abraham Whiteman 1805 

Sources, are primarily this L. E. Wilt Map. Revisions: John Brown settle- 
ment, Columbia County Deed Book; Ludwig Oyer (Eyer), Duy, Atlas of 
Bloomsburg, p. 7 

burdensome. Many prominent persons engaged in this speculation on the 
whole national frontier, often with great success. Others were not so suc- 
cessful. Robert Morris and James Wilson, as examples, signers of the 
Declaration of Independence and prominent statesmen in the founding of 
our nation, both speculated in western lands, some in our area. Robert 
Morris is noted in our county records as a one-time owner of extensive 
lands in our general region, including some bordering Catawissa Creek. 
James Wilson, similarly was involved in dealing of extensive acreages, 
some along Fishing Creek, and along the river opposite Mifflinville. 
Robert Morris died in financial ruin, having overextended his resources 
in such speculations.^ Wilson was also in grave financial troubles from 
similar causes at the time of his death. ^ Few of the first purchasers actu- 
ally settled on the frontier lands. They were usually speculators, hoping 
to make money by selling to actual settlers or to other speculators. 

Typical Procedures 

In order that we may understand more fully the important part which 
these land speculators played in the opening up of the New Purchase 
lands, let us imagine a farmer in the Philadelphia region who wanted to 
sell his farm, probably run down, and take up new lands on the frontier. 
He had limited funds to pay for explorations. He had limited time and 
money to use in applying for lands at the land office. After applying a 
wait was necessary until the land was surveyed and a report made. Final- 
ly, after making payment, a patent (certificate of ownership) would be 
issued. The speculator had already taken care of all these necessary mat- 
ters. He was able to tell about desirable lands and their locations, as, for 
instance, at the mouth of a creek, at the site of an old Indian village, or 
near some distinctive landmark, such as Catawissa Mountain. The settler 
would be told to look for ax marks, called blazes, on trees, which would 
mark boundaries. 

Who Were the First Settlers? The Squatters 

Were the first settlers the unauthorized persons whom the surveyors 
might encounter, as noted above? Were they the "back inhabts" men- 
tioned earlier by Le Tort? From the very earliest times there were ven- 
turesome people unwilling to go through the legal proceedings of acquir- 
ing new land, or those unwilling to pay the fees, however modest com- 
pared with those fees charged in other colonies. They might, and often 
did, take up land not yet purchased from the Indians. They constructed 
shelters, more or less crude. They cleared some land and put in some 
crops. These were steps looking toward the establishing of permanent 
homes. Such persons were called squatters. This practice prevailed in all 
the English colonies and was widespread in Pennsylvania, including our 
region. By 1726 it was estimated that two thirds of the 670,000 acres 

(about 1,000 square miles) then settled, had been occupied by squatters. 
Gradually, better buildings were constructed and more land cleared. In 
some ways the squatters looked forward to making their holdings perma- 
nent and legal. In many ways, this is just what happened. ^*^ 

This practice was highly objectionable to the Pennsylvania authori- 
ties, because it evaded the payment of the purchase price, and also the 
quitrents. Bitter hostility of the Indians was aroused when these settle- 
ments were made on land not yet purchased from the Indians. Pennsyl- 
vania repeatedly tried to prevent this practice, often by evicting the 
squatters and burning their cabins. The squatters, after enduring dangers 
of Indian attacks and the hard grueling work of bringing the wild forest 
into the settled conditions of cleared fields and better homes, looked with 
hostility on distant government or speculator who did nothing for the 
frontier, or so he thought, and just wanted to collect money. More or less 
vague references to nameless settlers indicate that this widespread prac- 
tice must have been present in our area.^^ 

Some Views of Our Region at the Beginning of Settlements 

In August, 1770, Benjamin Lightfoot, an experienced surveyor and 
explorer, journeyed to "Tankhanninck" to view some large pine trees 
suitable for ship masts. In this journey he noted passing and camping on 
"Pepomaytank Creek" (Koaring Creek). He wrote that the "east" branch 
of Susquehanna at Catawissa was "the most beautiful river" he ever saw. 
In fording the river, he found the water "scarce belly deep on our 
horses." The party camped at "Caunshanank", i.e.. Briar Creek, and 
noted passing the mouth of "Nesquaspeck" creek and also the "Falls 
which are now rapid and narrow but hardly perceivable at the time of 

One of the party stopped at a certain "McClures", which, from the 
context means near the mouth of Fishing Creek. He noted further, "From 
the mouth of Fishing Creek to this place is a Connecticut Township 
which they endeavor to lay out 5 miles square and each (with) lots 32 
perches wide (.1 mile). We observed as we rode up ye many trees 
marked, as we supposed with numbers of Lotts and several settlements 
along ye river, chiefly Germans. "^^ 

How Did It Come About That There Was a Connecticut Township in 

Over a century earlier, 1662, there were no settlers in the valley of the 
Susquehanna. In fact it was when there were only a few scattered settle- 
ments along the whole Atlantic coast and there was little knowledge of 
the geography of North America. This was when the King of England 
granted land to Connecticut with boundaries extending westward to the 
South Sea, which then meant the Pacific Ocean. It also meant, as was 


only to be realized later, that this grant would extend through large parts 
of what were to be New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Twenty 
years later came the King's grant to William Penn, to which grant the 
Connecticut people made no objection. 

The Urge of Connecticut Farmers to Migrate 

By the 1760's, after almost a century of occupation, the lands of Con- 
necticut were getting crowded from increasing population and the soil 
was becoming exhausted under the wasteful farming practices of the 
time. To attempt to take up lands in the strong and well established col- 
onies of New York or New Jersey was not feasible, but there were the 
lands of the Susquehanna valleys with the reports of their beauty and fer- 
tility. They were due west and well within the original grant to Connecti- 
cut, and they were almost as close to Connecticut as they were to the set- 
tled parts of Pennsylvania in the Philadelphia region. Some Connecticut 
people, undoubtedly speculators, organized the Susquehanna Land 
Company of Connecticut. Surveyors were sent out to survey town sites, 
which were to be five miles square. This whole area of northeastern 
Pennsylvania was made the Town of Westmoreland, of the Connecticut 
county of Litchfield. It extended as far south as the mouth of Fishing 
Creek and included the site of Bloomsburg. Almost immediately after 
this, 1760, the Connecticut Company started to attract settlers and to 
make settlements in Wyoming. ^-^ 

Indian Opposition 

There was opposition, however, from both the Indians and from 
Pennsylvania. Let us tell about the Indians first. The Delawares, after a 
number of successive sales of lands to the whites, were successively com- 
pelled to move, each time farther west. At this time they had been 
assigned to live on the highly desirable Wyoming lands. When the Con- 
necticut settlers, ignoring this arrangement, attempted to settle there in 
violation of this plan, the Delawares were embittered. They attacked the 
Wyoming settlers and wiped out the settlements. Many of the settlers 
were killed, some with cruel tortures. Others were taken captive. The re- 
mainder fled back to Connecticut.^^ 

Opposition from Pennsylvania 

After 1768, there was renewed interest in the Wyoming Valley on the 
part of both Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Settlers came. Pennsylvania 
authorities attempted to assume control, but were resisted by the settlers 
from Connecticut. The region was too distant from Philadelphia or Lan- 
caster for regulation of the settlements or for conducting relations with 
the Indians, as well as for resistance to the Connecticut intrusions. The 
settlers needed a nearer county seat than Reading, the county seat of 


Berks, of which our county was then a part. A new county, Northumber- 
land, was established in 1772.15 It included an enormous extent of land, 
from the forks of the North and East branches of the Susquehanna River 
and far beyond. The county seat was placed at the "Forks", but the name 
was changed from Shamokin to Sunbury.* 

Armed Conflict 

Armed conflict with bloodshed broke out between the Pennsylvania 
forces, called Pennamites, and the Connecticut settlers, called Yankees. 
These conflicts on the eastern borders of our county make a story too 
long for our history. At the outbreak of the Revolution, both factions 
were ordered to desist and join the common effort to secure independ- 
ence. ^^ A special court held at Trenton, in 1782, awarded the disputed 
territory to Pennsylvania. The conflicting claims of settlers for land plots 
were not settled till 1802. The Connecticut settlers generally had their 
claims confirmed while those from Pennsylvania were paid money for 
their claims. 


The hostility aroused between the two sets of settlers in this conflict 
lasted for many years. Another of the results was that four or five thous- 
and settlers were brought to Wyoming and neighboring regions. These 
people were to help build up the upper Susquehanna Valleys. These set- 
tlers were mostly Connecticut people, although many were from New 
York, New Jersey, and elsewhere. That some settlers were attracted even 
from Pennsylvania is of special significance to us, because some of them 
helped establish Bloomsburg.^'^ 

Beginnings of the Scotch-Irish in the North Branch Country. The 
Conestoga Outrage 

The Scotch-Irish, as elsewhere on the American frontier, were gener- 
ally among the advanced groups making settlements on the frontier. 
Many of them, for this reason, were squatters. And because so many of 
them were also far out on the frontiers, they were the victims of the 

*The earlier name, Shamokin, was, at a later time, adopted by the coal mining town, 
far up the Shamokin Creek. Salem township, a township of Luzerne County, on our 
eastern border is named after the town of Salem in Connecticut, Munsell, History of 
Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties... etc. p. 324. Huntington township 
and Huntington Mills, in neighboring Luzerne County, and Huntington Mountain 
and Creek, both partly in both Columbia and Luzerne Counties, carry the name of a 
distinguished Connecticut statesman and patriot, Samuel Huntington, who was at one 
time or another, governor of Connecticut, signer of the Declaration of Independence, 
and the President of the Continental Congress. 

Long lasting hostility was aroused between the two sets of settlers. See testimony of 
Fithian, quoted in Northumberland Proceedings, II, p. 6; Godcharles Chronicles of 
Pa., pp. 673-675; 903-907. 


Indian attacks following the outbreak of Pontiac's War. In Lancaster 
County, to the southeast, it was claimed on doubtful evidence, that a 
small group of Conestoga Indians, the last surviving remnant of the Sus- 
quehannocks, who were living peaceably, were giving information that 
was helpful to those Indians "on the warpath," and that they were 
harboring Indians who had been guilty of participating in massacres. The 
Scotch-Irish groups appealed to the Proprietors, the Penns, and to the 
Assembly, for protection against the Indian attacks. They also appealed 
for the punishment of the perpetrators among the Indians, especially 
those alleged to have taken refuge among the Conestogas. A group of 
these Scotch-Irish, called the Paxtang Boys,* impatient with the slow 
moving government, took laws into their own hands and advanced 
against the Conestogas with the intention of seizing the suspects, 1763. 
When the Indians made, or seemed to make, a show of resistance, they 
were attacked and the whole community was eventually massacred. ^^ 

The Lancastrian Migration to Wyoming and James McClure Included 

This outrage aroused the authorities to make an attempt at punish- 
ment of its perpetrators, an attempt that was unsuccessful. The attempt, 
however, seemed to confirm the feeling of these frontier elements that the 
authorities would not protect the frontiers against the Indian outrages. 
As a result, many settlers decided to organize a migration to Wyoming 
and throw in their lot with the Connecticut settlers. A report by a mili- 
tary representative of the Penns, May 12, 1769, noted that he found 
James McClure along the river above the mouth of Fishing Creek. 
McClure stated, according to this report, that he was a member of a 
party of five, the advance party of a group of one hundred on the way to 
join the Connecticut settlement at Wyoming, and that they were chiefly 
from Lancaster County. ^^ 

McClure's Settlement at Fishing Creek 

The leader was Lazarus Stewart, who had married the daughter of 
Josiah Espy, another Lancaster county resident. Her sister was the wife 
of James McClure. This relationship between these two brothers-in-law, 
Stewart and McClure, may help to explain McClure's association with 
this Connecticut movement; also his taking up of land in the neighbor- 
hood of Fishing Creek, but under Connecticut's claim for its control. In 
1769, McClure's settling there would, under Pennsylvania's laws, have 
made him a squatter. Three years later as the opposition on the part of 
Pennsylvania to these Connecticut settlements became stronger and 
stronger, McClure completed his purchase under Pennsylvania law. He 

*Also written Paxton. 

bought from Francis Stewart, almost surely a speculator, but no relation 
to Lazarus Stewart. 

This property, first occupied as a Connecticut tract had been named 
Beauchatnp (Beautiful Field), but when purchased from Stewart, was 
named McClure's Choice. McClure soon built a log cabin. In this log 
cabin in 1774, was born James McClure, Jr., claimed to be the first white 
child born in the area between the North and West Branches of the Sus- 
quehanna. McClure became a vigorous leader in the defense of this out- 
post of civilization until his death. ^ It was about this same time that 
Espy completed his land purchase, farther up the river and also under 
Pennsylvania authority. We can only infer that, as the steps taken by the 
Pennsylvania government to oppose the Connecticut intrusion became 
more and more determined, McClure and Espy both decided that it 
would be more prudent to accept Pennsylvania's jurisdiction. ^^ They 
then both purchased these lands under Pennsylvania law. Within a few 
years more settlers came, joining the scattered neighborhood of those 
who had previously arrived. Some others were Quakers, who will be 
taken up later. ^ 


Down the river a mile or so from the mouth of Fishing Creek on the 
south bank at the mouth of the Catawissa Creek was a place noted 
among our earliest records. It was further distinguished by the grandeur 
of Catawissa Mountain in the background. It had long been the site of an 
Indian village or a succession of Indian villages. The name Catawissa, 
apparently, was used by the various tribes of Indians that had occupied 
the general area. This name, under different renderings as the Indian 
sounds were recorded in English, always meant pure water. This village 
was the last Indian settlement at this site.^^ 

The Coming of the Quakers to the North Branch Region 

Fur traders were at Catawissa as early as 1728 when Le Tort, himself 
a fur trader, wrote from Catawissa region and referred to the "back 
inhabts."^ According to family tradition, a German immigrant named 
Hartman was living in this area on land he had taken up, which prob- 
ably means that he was a squatter, as early as 1760.^ 

Lightfoot, in his report of 1770, mentioned securing ferry service and 
the rental of a horse from persons at Catawissa. Ellis Hughes, a former 
Quaker, who would soon renew his allegiance to the Quakers, was a 
member of Lightfoot's party. ^^ He was soon to be purchasing large 
amounts of land in the Catawissa region and became a settler himself.^'' 

The Leadership of Moses Roberts 

Moses Roberts was one of his purchasers. Roberts was a young and 
able Quaker who had won respect as a leader among his neighbors at 


Oley, near Reading. This record led the Governor to select him to inves- 
tigate a situation on the West Branch where a speculator was suspected of 
having taken up land illegally. The difficult journey and its mission, also 
difficult, were carried through successfully with the result that the specu- 
lator was compelled to vacate the land that he had taken up illegally. For 
us it is important because it brings Moses Roberts to our attention as one 
of the important founders of Catawissa. In his journal, Roberts wrote, in 
part: "And when we came to the inhabitants of the New Purchase, I 
lamented the loose and unreligious lives and conversation of the people. 
Yet there was something that attracted my mind to that country.... and 
sometime after I returned home, I felt a drawing of love in my heart to 
visit some friendly people about Catawesey, and to have a meeting 
amongst them for the worship of God...". It is to be noted that he 
reports people already at Catawissa, but also notes their "loose and un- 
religious lives." Roberts, joining his influence with that of Hughes, was 
able to persuade a dozen or so families from Maiden Creek and Exeter in 
Berks County to settle in the Catawissa region. Their route would have 
been from Reading to Harrisburg. From there they ascended the Susque- 
hanna River in boats to the mouth of Fishing Creek. ^ 

Roberts is recorded as having built the first permanent residence, 
almost certainly of logs, in 1775. ^^ Here in this house was held the first 
Quaker Meetings in Central Pennsylvania.^ Application to hold an 
"Independent Monthly Meeting"* was made, but was not granted until 

Quakers on Little Fishing Creek 

John Eves was a Quaker, born in Ireland, who migrated to America 
in 1738. He settled at Mill Creek, near Newcastle, in Delaware. He early 
won respect from his neighbors and was chosen for several offices, in 
which he showed great ability. According to family traditions, he jour- 
neyed to Little Fishing Creek in 1769. Having come up the West Branch 
to a small settlement near the present site of Milton, no one was able to 
direct him to the land of the McMeans, for which he was looking. 
Finally, two Indians guided him along the trail between Great Island, on 
the West Branch, and Nescopeck on the North Branch, a trail which led 
through the valley of the Chillisquaque. When he reached the high hill 
overlooking modern Millville, now called Fairview, Eves recognized the 
land that had been described to him. After examining the timber and the 
soil, he returned to his Delaware home. The next summer he returned 
with his oldest son, and together they built a log cabin. In the third sum- 

*In Quaker usage, "Meeting" is equivalent to church service. In another usage, it 
means an approved organization. As another denomination would say, the Catawissa 
Church, the Quakers would say, "Catawissa Meeting." 


mer, 1772, he brought his family. At this time he did not own the land 
and would, therefore, have been a squatter. There must have been, how- 
ever, an understanding with Reuben Haines, a prosperous Philadelphia 
brewer and land speculator, the then owner of extensive lands, including 
this tract. In 1774, Eves purchased 1200 acres of land from Haines. ^^ This 
area took in the site of present Millville and much surrounding territory, 
almost two square miles. ^-^ 

Just when the covered wagons, Conestoga wagons, came to be used in 

our area is unknown, but references suggest that it was before the Revo- 

hition. Several settlers are recorded as having lived in their wagons 

through one or more winters. The author has seen old wagons of this 

type, but not as large as the big freighter pictured. These could have been 

pulled by two-horse teams or a team of two oxen. 

William H. Shank, Indian Trails to Super Highways, p. 31, with permission of the 

Conditions on the Eve of the Revolution 

In the six years, more or less, following the New Purchase, a land 
rush brought beginnings of settlements to widely separated places. At the 
mouth of Catawissa Creek we can picture Ellis Hughes and Moses 
Roberts with the Quaker families they had induced to join those already 
there, along with an Indian village newly established. Some of the 
Quakers were to be found in the south in Roaring Creek valley.-^ Ac- 
cording to a family tradition, a man named Hartman had been living in 
the region as early as 1760.^^ He apparently won the friendship of the 
Indians by tanning hides for them. Warrants for surveys in this valley 
had been issued at almost the earliest possible time, in 1769. Samuel 
Hunter purchased a farm in this valley in 1774.^ Up the Catawissa 
Creek, near Mainville Gap, Isaac John had settled in 1772. Still farther up 
the creek, Alexander McCauley had settled in 1773, with a result that his 
name came to be attached to the sharp ridge in that area. Along the 


River, up stream from its confluence with Fishing Creek, were the Boone, 
McClure, Doan and Kinney famihes.^'' Farther up the river, a traveler 
would have found the Peter Melick family, settlers from New Jersey, and 
on farther were the Bright, Brittain, Creveling, Henrie, Leidle, and Webb 
families.-^ A "compact settlement" in Fishing Creek valley, two or three 
miles above its mouth, could not have been very compact for our times, 
but it was so reported. -^^ A short distance to the east, in an area later to 
be known as Cabin Run, the Aikmans, Solomons, and VanCampens 
were to establish homes in 1777. They would find some nameless settlers 
already there. '*^ Also, at least one nameless family in the vicinity had set- 
tled prior to 1780. Far up Little Fishing Creek, we have noted the arrival 
of John Eves and family.'*^ The Whitmoyer, Billhime, and Welliver fam- 
ilies were to come and settle to the east about 1775 at the headwaters of 
the Chillisquaque Creek. '^^ 

There is evidence of keen interest in other areas. Explorers must have 
been ranging widely to make possible the extensive purchases by num- 
erous speculators. One such speculator, Benjamin Chew of Philadelphia, 
purchased approximately 2,000 acres in the Greenwood Valley.*^ In 
1769, over a thousand acres of land "eight or ten miles north of 'Fishing 
Creek Mountain,' meaning Knob Mountain, were surveyed and given 
the name of 'Putney Common'."^ 

The American Revolution Occurred 

1765 Stamp Act passed by Parliament of Great Britain, quarrel with 

Mother Country started 

April 19, 1775, the Battles of Lexington and Concord marked the 

opening of our Revolutionary War for Independence 
July 4, 1776, our Declaration of Independence 
1778 the Battle of Wyoming and the Great Runaway 
1781 General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown 
1783 Peace was secured and our Independence acknowledged 

The Developing Quarrel With the Mother Country 

The decade between 1765 and 1775 was when the friction arose be- 
tween England and her American colonies, which was to result in our 
War for Independence. The progress of this dispute does not seem to 
have aroused much attention in the remote valleys of Roaring Creek or 
Fishing Creek. Settlers continued to come, as elsewhere, to Cabin Run, 
or to the headwaters of Chillisquaque Creek, or to the foot of Knob 
Mountain. With the outbreak of the War, a "Committee of Safety" was 
set up for all of Northumberland County, of which we were then a part. 


Our region, then a part of Wyoming Township, was represented on this 
committee by three of our nearby settlers, Thomas Clayton, James 
McClure, and Peter Melick. 

Despite these evidences of developing conflict, settlers continued to 
come, as we have noted elsewhere, to our remote valleys. At this point, 
we need to learn of the developments that were to bring the war to our 

1. Minutes of the Executive Council, Pennsylvania Archives, I., p. 216. 

2. In 1737 Conrad Weiser, the great Indian interpreter and official emissary to the 
Indians, passed through our area on a return trip from the Iroquois of New York. 
Here he found five men, two traders and others, seeking land. He also reported a 
large body of land "the like of which is not to be found on the river." Munsell, 
History of Luzerne Lackawanna and Wyoming Counties, p. 31, citing Weiser's 
Journal of April 26. Missionary activity of a number of missionaries is well sum- 
marized in the reference, Munsell, op. cit., p. 32. David Brainerd, one of these 
missionaries, preached at an Indian village of "12 houses at Opeholhaupung" 
(Wapwallopen), 1744, op. cit., p. 32; Dwight, ed., Memoirs of Rev. David 
Brainerd Among the Indians, p. 163. 

3. Travel conditions: Wallace, Indian Paths of Pennsylvania, pp. 1-5; Lightfoot, 
"Benjamin Lightfoot and His Account of an Expedition to Tankhannick,' 
Northumberland Proceedings, IX, p. 171. 

4. Dunaway, History of Pennsylvania, land prices, p. 205, wages, p. 210. 

5. Gearhart, "William Maclay, the Surveyor," article in Northumberland Proceed- 
ings, IX, pp. 20-43. See also the work of the surveyors in establishing the Mason 
and Dixon's Line, Bates„ Hisfory of Pennsylvania, pp. 95-97; Godcharles, Daily 
Stories, p. 919. A full account of a surveyor's trip into the wilds in 1770 is given 
in text of Benjamin's Lightfoot's, "Notes of the Expedition to Tankhannock,' " in 
the year 1770 in Lightfoot, op. cit., pp. 177-186. See also, Trescott's article #5, p. 
23 of Catawissa Items, in W.P.A. papers #5, 'The Early Surveys Within the 
Forks of the Susquehanna;" Hubbard, Moses VanCampen, pp. 281-282. 

6. On pioneer farming and its wasteful practices: Clark, William, Farms and 
Farmers, pp. 57-58; Dunaway, op. cit., Ch. XI; Fletcher, Pennsylvania 
Agriculture, 1640-1840, pp. 145-146; Schmidt, Rural Hunterdon. (N.J.), pp. 

7. Many standard histories explain the importance of indentured servants. See 
Battle, History of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania, pp. 60-61; 
Clark, Chester, "Pioneer Life in the New Purchase," Northumberland Proceed- 
ings. VII, p. 26. Dunaway, op. cit., pp. 67, 206-207; Fletcher, op. cit., pp. 110- 
113. Also consult a United States History textbook. 

8. Morris' holdings are recorded in Columbia County Deed Book, I, p. 475 ff; 
Wilson's, idem, p. 205; Battle, op. cit., p. 216. 

9. Useful references on the demand for western lands in this early period, also on the 
speculators and the types of settlers: Dunaway, op. cit., Chs. X, XI; Clark, Wil- 
liam, op. cit., Ch. IV, VI; Retcher, op. cit., pp. 59-60. For a detailed view of the 
activities of a land speculator see, T. Kenneth Wood, "History of the Making of 
the West Branch-The Story of Samuel Wallis" in Northumberland Proceedings, 
pp. 56-60. A whole tract of land west of Fishing Creek from its source to its 
mouth was ordered surveyed in 1769. Gearhart, op. cit., p. 26. 

10. Ballagh, James C, The Land System, American Historical Association Reports, 
1877, pp. 112-113. Quoted by Fletcher, 1740-1840, op. cit., p. 20-24. Clark, 
William, op. cit., pp. 73-75. 

11. Clark, idem.; Dunaway, op. cit., pp. 95-96; Fletcher, op. cit., pp. 20-24. Also 
recall LeTort's letter, quoted above; Godcharles, op. cit., pp. 773-774. 

12. Lightfoot, op. cit., pp. 177-181. These settlements must have been by squatters. 


13. Dunaway, op. cit., pp. 131-132. 

14. Deans, "Migration of the Connecticut Yankees to the West Branch," p. 38. Wal- 
lace, Indians in Pennsylvania, pp. 153-157; Battle, op. cit., p. 42. 

15. Clark, Pioneer Life in the New Purchase, pp. 30-32. Godcharles, Chronicles of 
Pennsylvania, III, pp. 229-238. 

16. Long lasting hostility was aroused between the two sets of settlers. See testimony 
of Fithian, quoted in Northumberland Proceedings, II, p. 6; Godcharles, Chron- 
icles of Pennsylvania, pp. 673-675; 903-907. 

17. For fuller accounts of these serious conflicts, consult Brewsters, Pennsylvania and 
New York Frontier, Ch. 23; Dunaway, op. cit., pp. 131-137. 

18. Brewster, op. cit., Ch. XVIII, pp. 127 ff; Dunaway, op. cit., pp. 114-115; 
Wallace, op. cit., pp. 152-153. 

19. Colonial Records, IX, pp. 583-584. Freeze, History of Columbia County, pp. 

20. Battle, op. cit., pp. 151-152; Hubbard, op. cit., p. 28. 

21. References on McClure's decision. Battle, idem; Columbia County Register of 
Deeds, Deed Book I, pp. 2, 4. References on Espy, Battle, op. cit., p. 187; Deed 
Book II. p. 44. 

22. Battle, op. cit., p. 152. Also refer to Lightfoot, Northumberland Proceedings, IX, 
p. 179; Freeze, op. cit., pp. 37-38. 

23. Battle, op. cit., pp. 270-273. 

24. Battle, op. cit., p. 270. 

25. Battle, op. cit., p. 401. 

26. Lightfoot, op. cit., p. 177. 

27. Eshelman, History of Catawissa Friends' Meeting, p. 6; Lightfoot, op. cit., p. 
185; Theiss, "How the Quakers Came to Central Pennsylvania," Northumber- 
land Proceedings, XXI, p. 69. 

28. Eshelman, op. cit., p. 8; Rhoads, History of Catawissa and Roaring Creek 
Quaker Meetings, p. 15; Theiss, op. cit., pp. b7-7Q. 

29. Eshelman, op. cit., p. 6; Theiss, op. cit., p. 69. 

30. Rhoads, op. cit., p. 22; Eshelman, op. cit., pp. 4-5. 

31. Rhoads, op. cit., p. 59; Eshelman, op. cit., pp. 4-5. 

32. Battle, op. cit., p. 234. 

33. Battle, op. cit., pp. 234-235; Gearhart, "Reuben Haines, Proprietor of Northum- 
berland," Northumberland Proceedings, XI, pp. 67-94. This reference gives a 
picture of the land speculators operating here and elsewhere in the New Purchase. 
Eves paid 145 pounds for 1200 acres, which is at the rate of approximately twelve 
pounds per hundred acres. At the prevailing rates, the land would have cost five 
pounds per hundred acres when purchased from the Penns, the Proprietors. 

34. Battle, op. cit., p. 273. 

35. Battle, op. cit., p. 401. 

36. Battle, op. cit., pp. 301, 299. 

37. Battle, op. cit., p. 152. 

38. Battle, op. cit., p. 185. 

39. Montgomery, Frontier Forts, I, p. 369. 

40. Battle, op. cit., p. 207. 

41. Battle, op. cit., p. 234. 

42. Battle, op. cit., p. 264. 

43. Battle, op. cit., p. 234. 

44. Battle, op. cit., p. 231, NOTE. 



The Revolution - 
The Opening Years 

At First the Revolution had Little Effect on the Frontiers 
The outbreak of the Revolution was marked with fighting around Boston 
and in New England through 1775. Then in 1776 the New York and lower 
Hudson River valleys were attacked. The Patriot forces were defeated 
and compelled to flee across New Jersey and take refuge beyond the 
Delaware River in Pennsylvania. This situation prepared the way for 
Washington to take tKe offensive, win the victories of Trenton and 
Princeton at the close of the year, and recover parts of New Jersey. The 
year 1777 was marked by attempts of the British to divide the northern 
from the southern States by driving a line through them at the center, 
chiefly through New York. Philadelphia was captured which required the 
United States to move its capitol from that city to Lancaster, then across 
the Susquehanna River to York. The attempt to drive a dividing line 
through New York was defeated, chiefly at Saratoga at the lower end of 
Lake Champlain, but also just north of the Susquehanna lands in New 
York's Mohawk River Valley. 

Which Side in the Revolution Would the Indians Take? 

With the outbreak of the Revolution, the British solicited the help of 
the powerful Iroquois Confederation, while the Americans tried to keep 
them neutral. The British were able to argue that the Americans were few 
in comparison with the British whose numbers were as the sands of the 
lake shore; that their disobedience to the King deserved punishment from 
both whites and Indians; that the King was rich and would reward them; 
that his supply of rum was as plentiful as the water of Lake Ontario; that 
if the Indians assisted they would never lack for money or goods. ^ Each 
of the Indian chiefs was presented with a suit of clothes, a brass kettle, a 
gun, a tomahawk, scalping knife, gun powder and lead for bullets, and a 
piece of gold.^ A bounty was also promised for each scalp. -^ 


Four of the "nations," the Mohawks, Onondagas, Cayugas, and 
Senecas, together with two of the Iroquois subject tribes, the Delawares 
and Shawnees, declared for the British. After the Americans secured the 
French AlHance, the hostihty of the Iroquois was intensified on account 
of their long-standing enmity for the French. The Shawnees and 
Delawares remembered, with bitterness, their loss of the Susquehanna 
lands after they had been assigned to them. These disgruntled tribes 
probably hoped to recover them.'* Two of the Iroquois "nations," the 
Tuscaroras and Oneidas, decided for the "Thirteen Fires," as the Ameri- 
cans were called. This action broke up the unity of the Iroquois 

The Coming of the War to the Susquehanna Region: The First Attacks 

Early in 1778, information reached the Susquehanna regions of forces 
being collected in New York for an attack.^ The western part of the State 
received the first blows, to be followed by attacks in the West Branch 
region and then on the North Branch. These came in the form of attacks 
on isolated homesteads, shooting of farmers in their fields, or of small 
parties of Indians waylaying travellers. Victims were killed and scalped. 
Prisoners were taken into captivity. Buildings were burned. In their hasty 
"hit and run" tactics, crops were often left.^ 

Fort Freeland was built in the summer of 1778 on Warrior Run, about 
four miles from modern Watsontoivn. To enclose its half acre area, over 
five hundred feet of closely set palisades, twelve feet high were required. 
It was built around a large two-story log house. Fort Jenkins probably 
resembled Fort Freeland. 
Meginnis, Otzinachson, p. 611. 


The Coming of the War to the Susquehanna Region: Forts Constructed 
The first years of the Revolution passed with no attacks in the Sus- 
quehanna regions. Then in the spring of 1778, Joseph Salmon's cabin was 
burned at Cabin Run. He was able to persuade the Indians to liberate his 
wife and infant on his promise of accompanying them as a prisoner. 
After a year's captivity, he was released.^ 

Preparations were already underway to protect the settlers beginning 
about 1777 when the Indian attacks began. Forts were strengthened and 
new ones built. In our region, Fort Augusta, built twenty years pre- 
viously at Sunbury, was strengthened. Forts in the Wyoming region and 
on the West Branch were also constructed. In our immediate region were 
Bosley's Mills, near modem Washingtonville, at the Forks of the Chilli- 
squaque Creek;^ Fort Montgomery, also called Fort Rice;^^ and Fort 
Freeland, on Warrior Run, about four miles east of Watsontown.^^ Fort 
Jenkins was erected probably in the winter of 1777-1778. A former Phila- 
delphia merchant named Jenkins had previously settled and erected his 
house near the river a short distance below the mouth of Briar Creek. 
Several families, mostly now nameless, lived near by. The Jenkins home- 
stead was surrounded by a stockade twelve feet high enclosing an area 
sixty by eighty feet, including the house, possibly a second building and 
shelter for a garrison of thirty and along with neighboring families. *^2 

Moses VanCampen 

The construction of the next fort introduces Moses VanCampen 
whose military career is closely interwoven with the Revolutionary War 
in the upper Susquehanna valleys. He was also an excellent example of 
the indomitable soldiers and leaders in the frontier defense. 

Moses VanCampen was bom January 21, 1757, in Hunterdon 
County, N.J., near the Delaware River. His father, Cornelius Van- 
Campen, like very many New Jersey people, became interested in the 
Susquehanna lands of Pennsylvania, which were made available by the 
New Purchase of 1768. He first purchased in the Wyoming region, but 
sold his holding when he learned of the threats of violence between the 
Pennsylvania and Connecticut settlers. He then purchased land on Fish- 
ing Creek about eight miles above its mouth, and moved there with his 
family in 1773.13 

Early Training and Experience 

Cornelius' son, Moses, secured training in both navigation and sur- 
veying, and also wide experience in hunting and other forms of outdoor 
life.l'* When grown to about five feet, ten inches, he had developed a 

*The site of this fort is now occupied by a farm house and is marked with a monu- 
ment. It is just west of northern approach to the Interstate 80 bridge across the river 
from Mifflinville. 


powerful physique and a constitution able to endure hardship, along 
with a quickness of intellect. ^^ At the time of his appointment, he had 
gained some military experience in participating in an unsuccessful 
attempt to drive out the Connecticut settlers from Wyoming, 1775. ^^ 
When the news of the opening of hostilities at Lexington, Concord, and 
Bunker Hill had been spread through the country and the efforts to enlist 
soldiers had followed, VanCampen joined the Continental army as 
ensign. James McClure, a local leader, knowing his experience, training, 
and abilities, represented to him the need of soldiers to protect the 
frontier.* He persuaded VanCampen to resign his commission and join 
the militia and protect the home area.^^ He first saw service under this 
enlistment on the West Branch of the Susquehanna at Reid's Fort, just 
below Great Island (near modern Lock Haven). 

Fort Wheeler Built 

Early in 1778, the Commandant for the military district of the upper 
Susquehanna region. Colonel Samuel Hunter, transferred VanCampen, 
now twenty-one years of age and a lieutenant. He ordered him to lead a 
detail of twenty young soldiers to the mouth of Fishing Creek and then 
follow up the stream three miles to a compact settlement located in that 
region and there build a fort for the reception of the inhabitants in case of 
an attack from the Indians. ^^ 

It was under these circumstances that VanCampen with his detail of 
soldiers, early in April, took up the problem of a fortification for this 
"compact" group of settlers. We do not know how many, but it must 
have been enough to ju,stify such an undertaking. We know that the 
Salmons, the Aikmans, the VanCampens and the Wheelers were there. ^^ 
The farm house of Isaiah Wheeler was chosen for fortifying. They 
worked with a will, and most probably had the help of the men of the 
settlement. Having started in April, the premises were converted into a 
defensible fortification before the end of May. From available infor- 
mation, the house was surrounded by a barricade able to accommodate 
the entire population of the settlement.** At a distance of about four 

*James McClure was appointed to the Committee of Safety for Wyoming Township 
in 1776 and 1777. His advice would undoubtedly have been influential with Van- 
Campen, not yet twenty years of age. McClure died early in the war. Carter, "Com- 
mittee of Safety for Northumberland County," Northumberland Proceedings, XVIII, 
p. 45. 

**The garrison was later withdrawn from Fort Wheeler after which it was garrisoned 
by men from the neighborhood. Fort Wheeler was never captured and endured as a 
protection of the neighborhood till the end of the war in 1783, Frontier Forts, p. 371. It 
was persistently called the mud fort, because, as one authority says, the logs were 
chinked with mud. This chinking could very well been added later after the first 
urgency of securing a basic fortification had been fulfilled, possible with wattle. 
Battle, idem. 


perches (sixty-six feet) from the house, a barricade of sharpened stakes 
was constructed. Branches stuck in the ground were interwoven. The 
whole formed an almost impenetrable barrier. ^^ 

First Attack on Fort Wheeler 

Barely was the construction of the fort sufficiently far advanced to 
make it defensible when one of the scouts sent out, came in in great haste 
to announce the advance of a large war party of Indians. VanCampen 
quickly posted his men in defense while the settlers scrambled to the fort 
with what few necessaries they could grab. The besiegers, thwarted in 
their attempted surprise, plundered the dwellings and other buildings and 
burned them. Unwilling to venture storming the fort, they kept a brisk 
rifle from sheltering trees at a distance until nightfall. The fire was 
returned. The defenders' supplies of powder and bullets were becoming 
low when darkness ended the firing. ^^ 

Two of VanCampen's men* volunteered to sneak through the be- 
siegers' lines for help. Under the cover of darkness, these two courageous 
men were able to make their way through the lines, across the eight miles 
of largely wild country to Fort Jenkins; secure replenishing ammunition; 
and carry this heavy burden back to the fort before daylight and in time 
for the defenders to melt the lead into bullets in preparation for attack. 
The Indians apparently had had enough and had decamped shortly after 
nightfall, for, with the coming of morning, they had disappeared, leav- 
ing blood stains on the ground. ^^ 

Second Attack on Fort Wheeler 

Again in June, a sentinel informed VanCampen of suspicious move- 
ments in some bushes. The Lieutenant's suspicions were aroused that an 
attack was impending. He, with ten of his best sharpshooters, concealed 
by a slight rise of ground, crept between the advancing stalkers and a 
number of women milking cows in their special stockade. VanCampen 
gave the signal by firing and killing one of the Indians, who happened to 
be their leader. The rest fled in panic from the riflemen's volley, which 
apparently found no further targets. The sudden and unannounced firing 
so close-by produced consternation among the milkers and milked. The 
women and cows fled in a wild confusion of screaming and bellowing, of 
overturned pails, and of spilled milk. Although it came to be a matter of 

*One was named Henry McHenry, the other name is unknown. Battle, op. cit., p. 


laughter afterwards, it was no joke at the time, especially for the women 
and girls trembling with fright. *^^ 

Tories in our Region 

We digress slightly from our general narrative to recount Van- 
Campen's next adventure. This arose out of conditions confronting the 
frontier rangers, such as VanCampen. Colonel Hunter ordered him to 
take a detail of men to arrest three known Tories dwelling in an aban- 
doned settler's cabin in a wild section of the forest (the exact location can- 
not now be identified). VanCampen's party approached the cabin, after 
traveling all night, in the hopes of surprising the occupants. They were 
discovered and the inmates defied VanCampen's party with threats to 
blow out their brains if they advanced. Despite this threat, the door was 
forced by battering it open with a log. When the door yielded sufficient 
to permit entry, VanCampen rushed in, and in the nick of time brushed 
aside a rifle from his face as it was discharged. Although the bullet missed 
him, his face was peppered with powder burns, the scars from which he 
carried for the rest of his life. VanCampen wrestled his man to the 
ground. The others were likewise seized and made prisoners. They were 
marched off to higher authorities under guard of the soldiers with loaded 
rifles. VanCampen returned to general service. ^^ 

Attacks in Nearby Regions 

While attacks at other places in the North Branch country were oc- 
curring, they were more numerous on the West Branch extending from 
close to Sunbury far up the river. There the settlements had been started 
earlier than on the North Branch, with the result that that region was 
more populous.^ All of these events amply fulfilled the warnings that 
the attacks were to endeavor to drive out the settlers completely. Attacks 
were made on small parties working in the fields, in homes, and on forts. 
The loss of settlers killed and others taken prisoner became more and 
more terrifying. 

The Great Runaivay 

The rumors and warnings became more precise and definite. As an 
example, an escaped prisoner stated, "That the Nordring Indians are 
determined to Destroy both branches (of the river] this mon. 
[month]. "26 In response. Colonel Hunter ordered the settlers to take 
refuge in the forts. Then as the situation became more critical, it was 

*The construction of two railroads across the area has altered the site of Fort Wheeler. 
One railroad has been removed. A high embankment supports the elevated tracks of 
the other. The Bloomsburg Sand and Gravel Company has removed completely a 
one-time large hill. The site of the fort is now occupied by a building of the last named 


ordered that the settlements be abandoned. ^'^ Canoes were collected. 
Rafts were constructed. Many articles were hidden by being buried. Then 
they took flight down the river. We have an eyewitness account. 

"I took my family safely to Sunbury, and came back in a keel-boat 
to secure my furniture. Just as I rounded a point above Derrstown, 
[modern Lewisburg], I met a whole convoy from the forts above. 
Such a sight I never saw in my life. Boats, canoes, hog troughs, rafts 
hastily made of dry sticks, every sort of floating articles had been put 
into requisition and were crowded with women, children, and plun- 
der. [Plunder in this context, it is suggested, means merely belong- 
ings.] There were several hundred people in all. Whenever any ob- 
struction occurred at a shoal or ripple, the women would leap into 
the water and put their shoulders to the boat or raft and launch it 
again into deep water. The men came down in single file on each side 
of the river, to guard the women and children. The whole convoy 
arrived safely at Sunbury, leaving the entire range of farms on the 
West Branch to ravages of the Indians."^ 

Wyoming Valley Invaded 

These attacks on both the West Branch and North Branch settlements 
were thought to have been intended to distract attention from a major 
invasion. Forces made up of Tories, Indians, and some regular British 
soldiers, were gathering up the river in New York for an attack on 
Wyoming. The local attacks, it is inferred, were also intended to prevent 
the sending of help to the threatened area from the outside. ^'^ First, as in 
the Fishing Creek and West Branch areas, attacks, killings, scalpings, and 
persons taken into captivity occurred up river from Wyoming. Then an 
expedition composed of six hundred or more Seneca Indians with four 
hundred Tories under British officers, were reported advancing on 
Wyoming. Many were Tories from New York and Pennsylvania. Out- 
lying points were attacked and reduced. Fugitives took refuge at 
Wyoming. Help was summoned from Salem and Huntington, and from 
Colonel Clingaman,-^ commanding the garrison at Fort Jenkins. Colonel 
Clingaman, who did not send help, felt his first responsibility was to 
defend his post. He also felt the summons came too late, as it did, for him 
to help. But he was accused of indifference, implying that the Pennsyl- 
vania elements were willing to have the Connecticut settlers driven out of 
Wyoming by the Indians. "^•'^ 

Wyoming Battle and Massacre 

On July 3, 1778, the defenders were made up of 300 militia and briefly 
trained old men and boys. Under the rash insistence of Lazarus Stewart, 
the defenders marched out to meet the attackers. The enemy was in de- 
ployed positions and quickly out-maneuvered the defenders, who were 


thrown into confusion and then into flight. Many of the men were killed, 
while fleeing. Officers died bravely leading their men. Fugitives taken 
prisoner, not killed at once, were killed in cold blood that night. The 
failure of the Tories and their British officers to prevent the killing of the 
prisoners helped embitter feelings against them for many years. Report- 
edly, 227 scalps were taken. -^^ 

This form was of European manufacture after the Indians learned that it 
made a better instrument than their former stone-age weapons. 

Flight of the Survivors 

The remaining forts were surrendered. The non-combatants, women, 
children, and surviving men, what few there were, were to be protected, 
according to agreement. The homes were plundered, often removing 
some clothing from the wearers. The survivors fled in terror, mostly on 
foot, over the mountains and through the rugged wilderness and deep 
forest swamps, described as the "shades of death." As to the number 
perishing under the hardships experienced, no estimate is known, but 
hundreds were never seen again. ^^ The rough, down river road was 
taken by some. Still, others found means of floating down the river. One 
of these was the newly widowed Mrs. Lazarus Stewart, who collected her 
belongings on a small raft supported by two canoes. She reached the 
home of her sister, the widow of Jame McClure, at Fishing Creek. The 
latter hastily gathered her belongings on a similar craft. -^ They both then 
floated down the river to the shelter of Fort Augusta. Over on Little Fish- 
ing Creek, a friendly Indian warned John Eves the day after the battle. He 
loaded what he could on his wagon and was able to make his way to 
Bosley's Mills on Chillisquaque Creek, by nightfall that same day. From 
there, he returned to his Delaware home.-^^ 


At Sunbury, the fugitives from the West Branch were joined with 
those from the North Branch. A prominent frontier leader, William 
Maclay, when writing from Paxtang, July 12, 1778, has left this word 

"I left Sunbury, and almost my whole property on Wednesday 
last. I never in my whole life saw such scenes of distress. The river 
and the roads leading down were covered with men, women, and 
children, fleeing for their lives, many without any property at all, 
and none who had not left the greater part behind. In short, Nor- 
thumberland county is broken up. Colonel Hunter alone remained 
using his utmost endeavors to rally some of the inhabitants, and to 
make a stand, however short, against the enemy. I left him with very 
few, probably not more than a hundred men on whom he can de- 
pend. Wyoming is totally abandoned. Scarce a family remained be- 
tween that place and Sunbury when I came away. The panic and 
flight has reached to this place, [Paxtang]. Many have moved even 
out of this township... For God's sake, for the sake of the county, let 
Colonel Hunter be reinforced at Sunbury. Send him but a single com- 
pany, if you cannot do more... The miserable example of the Wyom- 
ing people, who have come down absolutely naked among us, has 
operated strongly and the cry has been, 'Let us move while we may, 
and let us carry some of our effects along with us'... Something ought 
to be done for the many miserable objects that crowd the banks of 
the river, especially those who fled from Wyoming. They are the 
people you know, I did not use to love, but now I most sincerely pity 
their distress..."^ 

VanCampen on Detached Service 

While these stirring events were occurring at Wyoming, VanCampen 
had been sent on detached service. On his return he started toward Wy- 
oming when news reached him that all was lost and that, if he continued, 
he could do nothing and that he would risk almost sure death or 
capture. ^^ With this news, he turned back. A general policy of patrolling 
the frontier was adopted. In the latter part of the summer, VanCampen 
was placed in charge of a company of Lancaster militia men to scout the 
frontier. He led his men from the Knob Mountain region to the head- 
waters of Green Creek across to Little Fishing Creek, thence to 
Chillisquaque headwaters, the Muncy Hills to Muncy Creek, and then 
back-tracking to his command at Fort Wheeler with militia men taking 
quarters at the James McCIure farm along the river. No Indian traces 
were found. ^ 


The Americans Fight Back - Hartley's Expedition 

Meanwhile, upwards of a thousand Continental line troops and 
militia were immediately ordered to our frontier. Wyoming was reoc- 
cupied and some of the settlers returned in August. ^^ The frontier was 
patrolled. Early in September, a force of two hundred men under Colonel 
Hartley proceeded from Muncy up Lycoming Creek across the divide 
into the North Branch valley. They twice encountered Indians, killing ten 
or more. Four men of the expedition were killed. Queen Esther's Town 
and neighboring villages of the Indians were destroyed. They were in the 
region of Tioga Point, just south of the New York line. Returning, a brief 
stop was made at Wyoming, and the victims of the July massacre were 
buried. Half of the force was left as a garrison. The return to Sunbury 
with the remnant of the force was accomplished October 5. Three 
hundred miles of frontier had been traversed in three weeks! '^^ 

Continuing Hostilities 

Shortly after the return of the Hartley expedition, the whole region 
was again subjected to Indian warfare. '^^ There had been much deva- 
station, as we have seen. There had been general flight from the frontier, 
recall the Eves and McClure families, but there had been no general flight 
from the Fishing Creek or Catawissa area. 

While measures were being taken to meet threats, numerous incidents 
reveal the conditions of the time. Early in August, Nathan Beach accom- 
panied his father in returning to the latter's up-river holding. While 
attempting to harvest crops, Nathan was captured by the Indians, but 
was able to make his escape."^ September 17, the Melick home below 
Espy was attacked. The family escaped to Fort Wheeler. Their home was 
plundered and burned. The Indians captured their pony and strapped a 
feather tick to it. Becoming frightened, the pony escaped and made its 
way to Fort Wheeler, thus restoring the tick to its owners. ^-^ On 
November 9, Wyoming was besieged and all the settlements down the 
North Branch, as far as Nescopeck were destroyed. It was feared that the 
whole line through New Jersey and Pennsylvania would be threatened if 
Wyoming were to fall."*^ Seventy Indians were seen advancing on 
Chillisquaque where some prisoners were captured. 

Frontier Warfare Continued: Nathan Beach 

The attacks continued into 1779. Nathan Beach had joined the garri- 
son at Fort Jenkins in 1778 and continued his service into this year. He 
and other citizens joined in patrolling the frontier, during which time 
they had a number of skirmishes with the Indians.^ 

Late in April, Beach joined with the garrison in pursuing a party of 
thirty-five Indians, which had attacked three families, Ramsey, Farrow, 
and Dewey. Bartley Ramsey was killed and the others, about twenty, 


were taken prisoner. On overtaking the Indians, a sharp engagement 
lasting about thirty minutes took place. The Indians escaped, but in the 
course of the flight the prisoners were able to elude their captors and 
make their way to the Fort. Five of the soldiers were wounded and four 
were killed. Houses were burned, cattle killed, and horses driven off. 
Authorities disagree as to the date. A letter of Colonel Hunter, Com- 
mandant at Sunbury, of April 27, places the date at "Sunday last."^^ 

Continued Frontier Warfare 

A few weeks later. May 17, across the river from Fort Jenkins, were 
several families, thought to be recent settlers. The Windbigler family had 
sent a son and daughter to Catawissa for supplies. In their absence, the 
other four members of the family were attacked and killed. The neigh- 
boring families were able to escape across the river to the Fort. The 
children returning, found themselves orphans with smoking embers 
where their home had been.'*^ 

Part of the American plan in 1778 was to attack the Iroquois Con- 
federation in concerted expeditions. General Brodhead attacked from 
Western Pennsylvania and checked the Indian attack there, 1779. *S 
Susquehanna valley was made the basis of one of the major campaigns of 
the Revolution. 

Sullivan's Expedition 

In July 1779, news of an expedition into the Indian country must have 
been carried to the frontier. A little later a flotilla of 134 boats, heavily 
laden with provisions and military supplies, was dragged and poled up 
the river past the settlements in our area. A strong expedition was being 
gathered and organized at Wilkes-Barre. Men and supplies also arrived 
from over the mountains from Easton. This expedition had been ordered 
by General Washington and placed under General Sullivan. 

While this force was assembling. Fort Freeland was attacked. ^^ It is 
thought that this was in order to turn the Wilkes-Barre force away from 
an attack up the river. After several men of the Fort Freeland garrison 
had been killed, the remaining twenty-one were captured. ^'^ 

General Sullivan was not to be turned aside. With an overwhelming 
force, he advanced up the North Branch, and then on into the Seneca 
country beyond. He carefully avoided being ambushed. The Indians 
aided by the Tories and British were attacked near Newtown (modern 
Elmira) and soundly defeated. 

Then the expedition advanced into the Indian villages of the Seneca 
country. These were deserted on the threat of American advance. These 
villages were made of well constructed houses and barns surrounded by 
fine grain fields and orchards, remarkably rich and productive. The 
buildings were burned, crops were destroyed, orchards cut down. The 


destruction was complete. The survivors were compelled to flee to the 
British at Fort Niagara. The power of the Six Nations was seriously 
weakened. On the return trip, there were some skirmishes and some 
small losses. The expedition was back in Wilkes-Barre early in 
October. ^1 

VanCampen's Part in the Sullivan Expedition 

VanCampen was made quartermaster of Sullivan's expedition. He 
purchased provisions from settlers up and down the river. Two hundred 
and fourteen boats were required. Nathan Beach took employment as a 
boatman, steering one of the boats to Tioga Point, where he was dis- 
charged. The boats were propelled by polling. The horses, which they 
also used, made a single file extending six miles. VanCampen ascended 
the river with one of the boats and attended to the distribution of sup- 
plies. He gave an account of this work to the Commissary of the Army.'^^ 
When finished with his quartermaster duties, VanCampen accepted ser- 
vice in scouting the enemy's positions, to the extent even of entering and 
scouting their camps at night and estimating their numbers from their 
campfires.^-^ VanCampen was given command of twenty-six selected 
men, all including VanCampen being volunteers, to march before the 
main body of the advance, to discover any ambush. This the group did, 
with the loss of sixteen men and more wounded. When General Hand's 
brigade, leading the advance, encountered an ambush, a charge was 
made and the ambush was broken up. This was followed by the victori- 
ous battle of Newtown, which was the key to the whole successful expe- 
dition of General Sullivan. The capture and destruction of over forty 
Seneca villages and productive farms followed this victory. ^'^ 

On the return from service VanCampen "was taken with camp fever" 
and spent the following winter recuperating at Fort Wheeler with his 
father. 55 

1. Hubbard, Moses VanCampen, pp. 30-31. 

2. Hubbard, idem. 

3. Hubbard, idem. 

4. Wallace, Paul W., Indians in Pennsylvania, p. 158. Some valuable services were 
rendered to the Americans by these tribes, as are outlined in this reference. 

5. Wallace, Paul W., idem. For aid given by Oneidas, see Hubbard, op. cit., p. 119. 

6. Wallace, op. cit., p. 159. 

7. Carter, "Indian Invasions of Old Northumberland," Northumberland Proceed- 
ings, XXVI, pp. 10 a. 

8. Battle, History of Columbia County, pp. 207-208. 

9. Montgomery, Frontier Forts, I, pp. 374-375. 

10. Frontier Forts, I, pp. 375 ff. 

11. Frontier Forts, I, pp. 381 ff. 

12. Frontier Forts, I, pp. 363, 367; Wallace, Virgil, "Fort Jenkins," Northumberland 
Proceedings, XII, pp. 103-104. 

13. Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 1-3; Wagner, Lieutenant Moses VanCampen, pp. 52-53. 


14. Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 5 ff. 

15. Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 37-38. 

16. Hubbard, op. cit., p. 20; Wagner, op. cit., p. 53. 

17. Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 28-29. 

18. Battle, op. cit., p. 185; Frontier Forts, I, p. 369; Wagner, op. cit., pp. 54-55 A. 

19. Battle, idem; Bates, History of Pennsylvania, p. 52. 

20. The author has written what seems the most probably description derived from 
differing, and possibly conflicting, sources. It is to be remembered that this fort 
was constructed under conditions of urgent need to provide protection in the 
shortest time possible. It is quite likely that the first construction was modified 
and strengthened in the six years that it served its purpose for regional protection. 
Battle, op. cit., p. 185; Frontier Forts, I, p. 369; Freeze, History of Columbia 
County, pp. 23-24; Hubbard, op. cit., p. 48. 

21. Battle, idem; Frontier Forts, idem. 

22. Battle, op. cit., pp. 55, 185; Frontier Forts, I, pp. 370-371; Freeze, op. cit., p. 24; 
Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 50-55. 

23. Frontier Forts, I, op. cit., p. 371. Freeze, op. cit., pp. 24-25. Hubbard, op. cit., 
pp. 52-53. 

24. Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 54 ff. 

25. Carter, op. cit., XXVI, pp. 10-12. 

26. Meginnis, Otzinachson, pp. 199-200; Munsell, History of Luzerne, Lackawanna, 
and Wyoming Counties, p. 51; Stewart, History of Lycoming County, p. 11 
(Potter letter); Wallace, Paul A.W., op. cit., p. 159. 

27. Meginnis, op. cit., pp. 216-218. Meginnis adds, "Shortly after the Big Runaway 
the attention of the savages was attracted to the memorable descent upon 
Wyoming, which took place the 3rd, of July, 1778." 

28. Gutelius, "Robert Covenhoven, Revolutionary Scout"; article in Northumber- 
land Proceedings, XIV, pp. 123-124. 

29. Bradsby, History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, pp. 97 ff; Munsell, op. cit., 
p. 51. 

30. Munsell; op. cit., p. 54. 

31. Wallace, Virgil, op. cit., p. 106. 

32. Dunaway, A History of Pennsylvania, p. 157; see also quotation from Colonel 
Stone, in Hubbard, op. cit., p. 74. 

33. Bradsby, pp. 102-104, see special note on Tories, p. 104; Brewster, William, 
Pennsylvania and New York Frontier, Ch. 27; Munsell, op. cit., pp. 53-54; 
Wallace, Paul, op. cit., pp. 160 ff. 

34. Battle, op. cit., p. 153. Bradsby, op. cit., p. 103. 

35. Battle, op. cit., p. 237. For a more complete and vivid account of the Battle of 
Wyoming and its aftermath, consult Carmer, The Susquehanna, Chapter 10. 

36. William Maclay, prominent leader in a letter of July 12, 1778, quoted in Gear- 
hart, "Life of William Maclay," Northumberland Proceedings, II, p. 59; also 
quoted in by Godcharles, Daily Stories in Pennsylvania, pp. 461-462. 

37. Hubbard, op. cit., p. 74. 

38. Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 75 ff., 80-81. 

39. Brewster, op. cit., p. 188. 

40. Godcharles, "First Expedition Against the Indians of the Six Nations," Northum- 
berland Proceedings. IV, pp. 3-35. 

41. Battle, op. cit., p. 56. 

42. Frontier Forts, I, p. 367. 

43. Battle, op. cit., p. 185. 

44. Battle, op. cit., p. 56. 

45. Frontier Forts. I, p. 367. 

46. Carter, op. cit., p. 19, (item 39); Frontier Forts, p. 367; Snyder, "Northumber- 
land Militia," Northumberland Proceedings. XVIII, p. 61. 

47. Carter, op. cit., XXVI, p. 19, (item 40); Battle, op. cit., p. 286. 

48. Dunaway, op. cit., p. 159; Godcharles, op. cit., pp. 167-169. 

49. Frontier Forts, I, pp. 365-66; Carter, op. cit., p. 19, (item 40). 


50. Carter, op. cit., p. 20, (item 45). 

51. Brewster, op. cit., Ch. 30; Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 94-95; 109 ff.; Wallace, Paul, 
op. cit., pp. 162-164. 

52. Brewster, op. cit., pp. 200-202; Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 95-97. 

53. Brewster, op. cit., Ch. 30; Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 99-105. 

54. Brewster, idem; Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 107 ff; Wallace, Paul, op. cit., pp. 

55. Theiss, Lewis E., "Major Moses VanCampen," Northumberland Proceedings. 
XIV, p. 103. 

Delaware Warfare 

Wallace, Indians in Pennsylvania, p. 45; courtesy of the Pennsylvania Historical and 
Museum Commission. 



The Revolution - 
The Closing Years 

Sullivan's Limited Success 

Sullivan's expedition, although highly successful, did not end the pattern 
of Indian hostilities: the stealthy attacks on isolated families or on 
workers in the fields; killings with scalpings; the burning of buildings; 
destruction of crops; prisoners taken for torture or permanent captivity. 
The Indian motives included desire for revenge; bounties paid by the 
British for scalps; desire on the part of the Delawares for the recapture of 
their lands. Despite these dangers there was some influx of settlers and 
the return of fugitives.^ 

Frontier Difficulties 

Let us review the difficulties of frontier warfare. Settlers' cabins were 
far apart. Settlers themselves were rash to return to the unprotected fron- 
tier, but we must remember that such cabins were their only homes and 
that they had already invested hard work and savings in these locations. 
They knew that they must work their fields or face starvation. Settlers 
were slow to seek protection of their forts, forts which were inadequate 
at the best. Troops were too few to patrol adequately the widely extend- 
ed frontier. Often arriving at a threatened location, they could only view 
the burning embers of a one time habitation and bury the mutilated 
bodies of those victims not taken into captivity. Soldiers enlisted for 
short terms were obviously not fully trained or experienced. They were 
also obviously anxious to return home to protect their families. Senti- 
nels, guards, and scouts were inadequate and often were not even 


Soldiers' Pay 

The pay of the soldiers, whether in the militia or in the regular Con- 
tinental troops, was poor in comparison with the earnings of craftsmen 
making guns or other needed equipment, or with many other occupa- 
tions. As an instance, it proved difficult to get volunteers for Sullivan's 
expedition because the boatmen's wages "were so superior." The pay was 
also poor in comparison with the prices which farmers could get for 
needed farm products, especially when such supplies were sold to the 
British armies for gold in comparison with the almost worthless Con- 
tinental money. 2 

Special Difficulties 

Moreover, Pennsylvania had special difficulties greater than those of 
many of the other States. The capital of the country was in Pennsyl- 
vania. Both the British and the American armies were in Pennsylvania 
much of the time. As the war progressed, the Americans came to have 
growing numbers of prisoners of war to care for. In various ways, all of 
these circumstances placed heavy burdens on the Pennsylvania govern- 
ment, especially so since a disproportionately large number of British 
prisoners was held in Pennsylvania.-^ 

Yankee - Pennamite Hostilities 

The hostile feelings between the Yankees and the Pennamites had by 
no means ended. This made cooperation difficult. It is probably true that 
certain persons interested in securing Wyoming lands from Pennsylvania 
were willing to have the Connecticut settlements destroyed, even if it 
should be by means of the cruel Indians. President Reed of the Pennsyl- 
vania government ordered that recruits going up the river to the Wyom- 
ing region should be made up of personnel from outside the State. 


Patterning after the names of political parties in England at this time, 
the patriots might be associated with the Whigs of England, who opposed 
many of the government policies. Those loyal to English government 
were called Tories. Many Americans of all classes were opposed to the 
Revolution. Some Tories were passive in their opposition but others, a 
large number, actively opposed, joined the British armed forces, and 
fought actively against the Revolution. The result was that the war came 
to have the character of a bitter fratricidal war. An instance, probably an 
extreme one: After the Battle of Wyoming Patriot Henry Pensil, having 
thrown away his gun, came out of hiding to give himself up to his 
brother, Tory, John Pensil. Kneeling at his feet, he begged for his life, 
"You won't kill your brother, will you?" "As soon as look at you," 


replied John. Calling him a "Damned rebel," John shot him down, toma- 
hawked him, and took his scalp. '^ 

The danger of the Tories was especially acute in the Susquehanna 
region. The attack that led to the Battle of Wyoming affords one 
example. It was chiefly an effort planned and carried out by the Seneca 
Indians, but it was accompanied by British soldiers and also numerous 
Tories, some of them former residents of the region.^ There were 
pacifists, especially among the Quakers, some of whom also were Tories. 
References to these and other Tories will be made later in the course of 
the narrative. 

The following excellent summary of local conditions is largely drawn 
from one of our basic references, J. H. Battle, History of Columbia and 
Montour Counties. Northumberland County was strangely divided in 
sentiment. Whig, Tory, Yankee, Pennamite, German, Scotch-Irish, 
Quaker, and English influence — all operating to interfere with general 
success. The general dislike of the Yankee settlers at Wyoming found fre- 
quent expressions in the official communications of the local authorities 
(recall the Maclay letter), with some people showing indifference or 
hostility to garrisoning the Wyoming areas. There was a lamentable lack 
of spirit among the pioneers. Bounties up to a thousand dollars were 
offered for scalps and fifteen hundred dollars for prisoners without any 
claims being submitted. (But refer to some of VanCampen's exploits and 
trophies.) Many lives were assumed to have been lost because the 
Wyoming settlements supplied troops who gave their services elsewhere 
when needed at home. Alleged deficiencies of the pioneer soldiers needed 
to be balanced against their duties to their families, their fear of famine, 
and their desire to salvage crops already planted. There was also the 
competition with other frontier communities in Pennsylvania for aid, 
with the implication that Northumberland had gotten more than its 
share, and that more local effort would need to be put forth. ^ 

Continued Frontier Warfare 

In the spring of 1780, the frontier settlers, or some of them, seemed to 
think that the danger of Indian attacks had been overcome by Sullivan's 
victorious expedition. It is true that the homes and fields of the Indians 
had been ruined, but their numbers had not been seriously reduced. It 
was reported to Pennsylvania's President Reed, at Harrisburg, that much 
gun fire had occurred at the headwaters of Fishing Creek and Muncy 
Creek in the fall of 1779 and early months of 1780. Later, these were to be 
connected with the attacks which took place in 1780. The general pro- 
cedure of the Indians was to come in large bodies from the New York 
region. When they reached the headwaters of the streams flowing into 
the Susquehanna, they divided into smaller parties to make attacks on 
isolated settlements.^ In the spring and later months, our regions alone 


were to be subjected to more than sixteen attacks and there is good 
reason to think that there were more that went unrecorded. The attack- 
ing parties seemed for the most part, to have been made up of Senecas 
with the motives of revenge and desire to acquire scalps for bounties. The 
Delawares were also involved with the additional motives for hostility as 
previously explained. 

Local Attacks Renewed 

Three incidents all occurred at about the same time. March 31, 1780, 
about two miles above Fort Jenkins, seven or eight prisoners were taken. 
Panic among the settlers was threatened. 

The VanCampen Tragedy 

Under the illusion of safety from Indian attacks, on March 30, 1780, a 
group of workers went out from the protection of Fort Wheeler. Their 
purposes were the rebuilding of their log cabin burned two years previ- 
ously and to put in crops for the coming season. They divided into two 
parties. Cornelius VanCampen, with his older son, Moses, and a 
younger son went up the creek to the former's property. Cornelius' 
brother, with his young son, and a friend, a young man named Peter 
Pence, were located lower down on Fishing Creek. Their rifles were laid 
aside as the parties took up their work late in March on what must have 
been one of those inviting early spring days. 

Actually, contrary to these inviting appearances, a large detached 
party of ten Indians surprised the Uncle's party, killing him and taking 
Pence and the boy prisoner. This was done without alarming the other 
VanCampens. The approach to them was stealthy, the surprise was com- 
plete. The father was suddenly transfixed with a spear. As he lay, the 
spear sticking up, his throat was cut and he was speedily scalped. The 
little boy by Moses cried out, "Father is killed!" at which he in turn was 
tomahawked to instant death. Now Moses was seized by two warriors. A 
third assailed him with a spear. There was violent thrust, avoided by 
Moses by a quick shrinking to the side, the spear passing through his 
outer clothing. Now VanCampen held himself erect. Another Indian 
joined the two holding VanCampen, presumably to protect him from 
further harm. His conduct having won their admiration, they desired to 
retain him as a prisoner. They started on their return journey home, 
having as prisoners, Moses from their last encounter, Peter Pence and the 
boy from the other party, and another boy named Rogers from a 
previous foray. 

They proceeded up Fishing Creek, its tributary, Huntington, and then 
across into the valley of Hunlock's Creek. Here the Indians compelled 
VanCampen to stand in the open as a decoy near a settlement. The strat- 
agem worked. A settler. Pike, was seized and compelled to lead the party 


to his cabin where his wife and child were seized, stripped of all but their 
light garments. One savage seized the young child by the ankles and 
swung it around with obvious intention of dashing its brains against a 
tree. The infant boy screamed and the frantic mother, shrieking, en- 
deavored to save it. At this a warrior, whom we will meet again in our 
accounts, interposed, restored her clothing, and on the mother's face 
painted red, a sign of safe conduct. He then pointed to the southeast and 
commanded, "Joggo, squaw" (go home). She made her way the many 
miles through rough country to Wyoming with her child. Her husband. 
Pike, was added to the group of prisoners, now two boys and three men. 
The horses were killed, and the party proceeded northwards toward the 
Iroquois country.^ 

As each day's journey took them farther into the Indian country, 
VanCampen formed the design of attempting an escape after killing their 
captors. Pence was willing, but Pike was fearful, and the boys too young 
to be heavily involved. 

Pennsylvania Flint Lock Rifle, powder horn and bullet bag 
Courtesy of Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission 

The Prisoner's Escape 

Finally, after two more days of travel, they decided to make a try. 
This was probably near Wysox. While gathering firewood, opportunity 
was given to converse in snatches with a plan resulting, although Pike 
still proved timorous. This was despite their reminding him that it would 
be better to be killed in a fight for freedom than to be carried to the 
Indian country to be killed there by torture. After the camping chores 
had been finished and they had lain down for the night, having been 
bound, either one of the boys was able to secure a knife, or VanCampen 
had been able surreptitiously to slide his foot over one that an Indian un- 
knowingly dropped. In the dead of night, but presumably there was 
some light from the camp fire, they were able to free each other. One of 
the Indians proved wakeful, and the timorous Pike failed in his part of 
the plan which was to kill three of the Indians with the guns. However, 
Pence and VanCampen plied the tomahawk and rifle on the sleeping 


forms and were able to dispatch nine of the ten Indians. The last Indian 
had time to become fully awake and resisted, but not before VanCampen 
struck him a glancing blow in the neck. They clinched, the Indian still 
powerful, VanCampen blinded by blood from his antagonist's wound. 
VanCampen was able to protect himself from the Indian's knife, but 
could not prevent the latter's escape. This escaped Indian, years after in 
time of peace, with a deep scar in his neck, testified to this struggle with 
VanCampen. His name was Mohawk. 

Since bounties of 600 pounds, although in continental currency, were 
offered for Indian scalps, they were taken. The scalps of friends and rela- 
tives were recovered and what booty would be useful was gathered. As 
soon as it was daylight they made their way to the North Branch River, 
embarked on a hurriedly constructed raft, which, however, soon col- 
lapsed under them, making them lose most of their supplies recently cap- 
tured. They were confronted with the long journey back home on foot, 
with a snow covered mountain intervening, if they could not use the 
river. Again fortune favored them. Stealthily proceeding, they came in 
sight of another party of Indians in the distance, and an unguarded raft 
close by. This they seized and were out of reach of all but a few scattered 
and futile shots before they were discovered. With but few other trifling 
adventures, they reached Wyoming, and eventually Fort Jenkins. Here 
Mrs. VanCampen had taken refuge with the remnants of her family. The 
meeting with her son, given up for dead was, as we can imagine, one of 
mixed feelings of joy as well as of grief to be reminded afresh of her other 

The Whitmo\/er Attack [Whitmore] 

Another tragic account is from Mary Whitmoyer, a survivor of an 
attack a short distance west of modern Jerseytown as she told it about 
twenty years later when living in the frontier cabin constructed by her 
husband. Henry Hoople, whom she had married after her release from 
captivity, had acquired uncleared land on the Ontario frontier. The scene 
as reconstructed is around the fire in front of their cabin. 

"At night the children gathered around the glowing fire 
before the shanty and begged their parents for stories. 'Tell us 
about the massacre. Mother' . . . This was their favorite story, 
the most blood-curdling of them all. Mary would sit before 
the fire with a faraway look in her eyes as she began: 'Early 
Easter Morning of the year when I turned eleven was when it 
happened. (1780) All our family was still in bed except for 
those who had left for the Sugar Bush and my big brother, 
Phillip, who was kneeling beside the hearth trying to start the 
fire. Suddenly the cabin door bust open and there stood an 
Indian in warpaint, a tomahawk in his hand. Behind him 



Armament carried by Robert Covenhoven, a noted frontier scout on the 
West Branch. Starting at the top and proceeding clockwise: a flint-lock 
pistol; a compass of French design with a sun dial attachment; and a 
gauge for measuring the powder charge for gun or pistol. At the center is 
pictured a tomahawk or hatchet, but lacking its wooden handle. A 
flint-lock rifle is pictured elsewhere. 
Meginnis, Otzinachson, p. 620. 

crowded others, Oneidas, Delawares, Senecas and a few ruf- 
fian whites from the Revolutionary Army, all armed and 
making threatening noises. 

My father leapt from bed and reached for his musket but 
a shot through the open door laid him out dead on the floor. 
At the same instant the first Indian buried his hatchet in 
Phillip's head and a second did the same to my mother 
grabbing her by her long hair and scalping her. My big sister, 
Sally caught the baby as it fell from Mother's arms and 
rushed outside. I grabbed httle Johnny and followed her as 
did also our brothers Peter and George. By this time all the 
ruffians were inside the cabin looting it. Then the place 
burst into flames and Indians, about twenty of them, swung 
us on to their horses and began to ride off.' 

At this point in the story Mary always stopped, over- 
come by her emotions until one or other of the children 
prodded her to go on. 'What about the baby. Mother, tell 


us about the baby.' The agonies of that dreadful day over 
twenty years before were still so vivid that it hurt Mary to 
speak of them and yet, by some queer contradiction, it soothed 
her aching heart to give them voice. She would continue: 

'When a big Indian threw Sally onto his horse the baby 
in her arms was frightened and began to scream. He wrenched 
it away from her and holding it by one foot swung it around 
his head and dashed its brains out against a tree leaving the 
little body where it fell. Both Sally and I screamed and strug- 
gled to get off the horses and go to the baby but Sally's Indian 
clobbered her and mine dug a knife into my ribs so that the 
blood gushed out on my nightgown and we dared not struggle 
any more. They made it clear that the same thing would 
happen to us if we did not keep quiet for they feared that 
a rescue party would see the smoke and give them chase.' 

'We rode three days into the setting sun to the place 
where the Alleghany flows westward towards the Ohio, to 
the land of the Delawares. They divided the prisoners on the 
second night when they separated and went their different 
ways ... I don't know what happened to any of them.' " 
(John and Mary, after seventy years, did find each 

Threats in the Neighboring Regions Affect Our Area; The Destruction of 
Fort Jenkins 

By 1779 most, if not all, the forts on the West Branch had been de- 
stroyed. This left Fort Augusta at Sunbury dangerously exposed to pos- 
sible capture and loss of the military supplies stored there. To improve 
the defenses. Fort Rice was built late in 1779 or early 1780. Its location 
was on the headwaters of Chillisquaque Creek, about two miles above 

*This event, unrecorded at the time, would have been unknown to us if it had not 
been noted in Battle, op. cit., p. 264. It was recently confirmed by the genealogical 
researches of Elizabeth L. Hoople, who learned that she was a descendant of Mary 

This story, somewhat abridged, is quoted from The Hooples of Hoople's Creek, pp. 
34-36, 76-84, with the kind permission of the author and publisher, Elizabeth L. 
Hoople, 239 Broadway St., Streetsville, Ontario, Canada. It had been passed down 
by the descendants of the protagonist, Mary Whitmoyer, her Maiden name, to 
Elizabeth L. Hoople. There are anomalies in the story. One is that Senecas and Dela- 
wares, allied with the British, were in a foray with Revolutionary soldiers and the 
Oneida Indians, who had sided with the Patriots. A second anomaly is to have the 
Senecas and Delawares attacking the Whitmoyers, who were British sympathizers. 
These anomalies are of minor significance in the context of the convincing character of 
the story as a whole. The tragic killings in her family witnessed by this eleven year old 
girl in acute fear for her own life left her with indelible memories. See, Hoople, Eliza- 
beth L., The Hooples of Hoople's Creek. Copyright, Canada, 1967. 


modern Washingtonville. Limestone walls, two feet thick, enclosed a 
"never-failing" spring. There was a second floor and also an attic above 
it. It was one of the largest and strongest forts ever constructed in our 
regions. It is still standing. ^° Early in September, 1780, a force of Indians 
and British soldiers upwards of 250 attacked the fort. A vigorous defense 
was organized and the attackers were held off. Calls for help were sent 
out and relieving expeditions were dispatched. The garrison at Fort Jen- 
kins was ordered to abandon its fort and go to the relief of Rice. The 
besiegers at Rice abandoned the attack. They divided into groups. One 
went east to the Fishing Creek region, around the end of Knob Mountain, 
and then toward the river. Finding Fort Jenkins deserted, they proceeded 
to destroy it and the buildings around it. With the work of destruction in- 
complete, they suddenly left. To explain this sudden departure, we must 
pick up some other threads of our story. ^^ 

Tories Among the Quakers 

Settlements on Fishing Creek and at Catawissa remained occupied 
after these various tragedies when other settlements were abandoned. 
Was it because the Quakers, as was widely known, were pacifists? Were 
there Tories among the Quakers who gave aid and information to the 
enemy? It became revealed only in recent times that Samuel Wallis, a 
Quaker and prominent land owner on the West Branch, was giving aid 
and information to the British. ^^ From the American point of view, why 
would suspected persons take refuge, as alleged, with the Quakers? Why 
had their settlements never been molested? In war time suspicions can be 
aroused on far less basis. 

Considerable interchange of correspondence between the authori- 
ties about "treasonable practices" of the Tories in the Catawissa and Fish- 
ing Creek areas has been preserved. An expedition was ordered from the 
southeast to attack this settlement. ^^ It was thought that information 
about this expedition reached the group attacking Fort Jenkins. Then 
these attackers immediately left, as noted above, and prepared to am- 
bush this expedition under Captain Klader. The ambush was a complete 
surprise. Thirty, more or less, of the Klader expedition were killed. Three 
escaped, one was taken prisoner. This event has come to be known as the 
Sugarloaf massacre.^"* It was so called because it occurred near the 
Sugarloaf Mountain in Luzerne County. ^^ 

The Quakers Came in for Harrassment 

Suspicions arose as to who spread information about this expedition. 
These suspicions arose in another connection. A community in the Roar- 
ing Creek Valley, not otherwise identified as to location or size, came 
under suspicion sufficiently serious to make the authorities feel that it 
should be investigated. VanCampen became a member of the militia sent 


out for this purpose. He and a trusted companion, using the stratagem of 
Indian costume and staining exposed sections of their bodies to resemble 
Indians, infiltrated the community. They gathered enough information 
to justify arresting all the persons thus revealed. The suspects were 
turned over to higher authorities for further proceedings. 16 

Meanwhile, measures were taken against the suspected persons 
among the Quakers at Catawissa. April 9, 1780, shortly after the Van- 
Campen and Whitmoyer tragedies, Moses Roberts and Job Hughes were 
taken prisoners by several armed men from Sunbury without proof 
against them or without any witnesses to testify against them or without 
any charge against them. This was at the mouth of Catawissa Creek. 
They were taken to Sunbury and confined, where they "were persecuted" 
to some degree. They were then removed to Lancaster and confined there 
for upwards of a year without trial. ^^ In June the wives of the men incar- 
cerated, were turned out of their homes at Catawissa by armed men from 
Sunbury, their homes and possessions destroyed and four horses taken. 
The women and children, seven in all and one but five weeks old, were 
allowed to ride, but there was insufficient time to make bread before 
starting on a cross-country journey to the refuge of friends and relatives. 
They arrived there after "much fatigue." A committee of Friends from 
Philadelphia presented a petition respecting the plight of Roberts and 
Hughes to the Chief Justice, Thomas McKean. The judge would give no 
relief. His response was full of "bitterness and reviling." The release of 
the two prisoners finally occurred about March or April, 1781, with no 
additional facts available as to this incident or the eviction of families. ^^ 

VanCampen and Fort McClure 

In the summer and fall of 1780, VanCampen was engaged in recruit- 
ing service and reorganizing his company. He was successively appointed 
ensign and then lieutenant. Early in 1781 he was ordered to take up the 
active duty of patrolling, with his reorganized company, the headwaters 
of the Muncy, Chillisquaque, and Little Fishing Creeks. This spring he 
stockaded the residence of Mrs. James McClure, which was thereafter 
called McClure's Fort.*!^ The stockade was large enough to afford pro- 
tection for people of the neighborhood as well as a safe storage for sup- 
plies and headquarters for the patrolling soldiers. Not long after news 
was brought that a body of 300 Indians, far up the West Branch at 
5innemahoning, were hunting and laying in a store of provisions for 
descent on the settlements. Lieutenant VanCampen with four others were 
assigned from McClure's Fort to detached service to reconnoitre this 

*It is reported by the Fort McClure Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, 
that it occupied the exact site of the later home of Douglas Hughes, now preserved as 
the Fort McClure Homestead. Frontier Forts, p. 373. 


menace. The group went out in Indian disguise. A large party of Indians 
was discovered. They were attacked by VanCampen's little force at 
night, effecting a complete surprise. Those of the enemy not killed were 
put to flight. From the booty captured, it was established that this party 
was just returning from a destructive foray in the Penn's Creek area.^*^ 
No other incidents directly associated with McClure's Fort have been re- 
corded, but there were traditions of lurking Indians with alarms and 
hurried flights. ^^ 

Last Indian Troubles 

After the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781, negotiations 
for peace were entered upon with the final treaty being signed in 1783. 
The Indian attacks declined, with the brunt falling on our neighboring 
regions. Depredations did not end immediately, but dwindled away. The 
British assured that the Indians had been recalled, but some attacks con- 
tinued, possibly because not all the Indians received the instructions, or 
because some of them could not resist the temptation to secure plunder. 

In 1782, a family across the river from Catawissa was attacked by a 
party of Indians. The parents and two daughters were murdered. Three 
sons, on returning from Sunbury where they had gone to secure flour, 
discovered the tragedy.^ 

Again at Catawissa, a group of Indians occupied the site of a former 
Delaware Indian village. It came to be known as Lapackpitton's Town, 
after the name of the chief of the former Delaware town. Friction arose 
between the whites and the Indians. One white aroused the Indians' 
wrath by interfering with their fishing. He had to flee by wading across 
the river, then shallow. He could not swim but was able to make his way 
somehow through the deeper places to the safety of the opposite shore. ^-^ 

An incident occurred during the last years of the war, which probably 
was illustrative of occasional happenings that can occur in disordered 
times of war. A soldier, Robert Lyon, was sent from Fort Augusta to 
Wyoming with a canoe load of stores. He secured his canoe at the mouth 
of Fishing Creek. Leaving his dog and gun in it, he went to see his affi- 
anced bride, daughter of Mr. Cooper, in the neighborhood. In his de- 
fenseless condition he was taken captive by Shenap, an Indian chief, and 
taken to Niagara. Here he was released by the interposition of a British 
officer, who, it turned out to be, was his brother. Back at Fishing Creek, 
suspicion was aroused against Cooper following the mysterious disap- 
pearance of Lyon. Cooper was arrested, and placed in a canoe to be 
taken to the Sunbury jail. A rifle belonging to one of the posse was acci- 
dentally dropped overboard. Cooper was accused of causing the loss. An 
altercation arose. One of the men hit Cooper in the head with a toma- 
hawk resulting in his death some twenty days later. Lyon returned and 
later was able to establish Cooper's innocence. How the case further was 


disposed of as well as the outcome of romance are not known. ^'^ 

The last outrage was in 1785. A family of three, father, mother, and 
son, were murdered by a party of Indians on the "Mifflin Flats." They 
had pushed ahead of a party of immigrants. ^5 

VanCampen's Last Services in the Revolution 

In mid April, 1782, VanCampen was ordered to lead a party to inves- 
tigate the killing of a certain settler in the Bald Eagle region, and to secure 
any of his property that might have escaped the tragedy. On reaching 
their destination, they were attacked by a party of eighty-five Indians. A 
few escaped, many were killed, and the rest taken prisoner. ^6 After 
almost a year's captivity under the Indians at first, then under the British, 
with occasions in which his life was threatened, VanCampen was finally 
exchanged and resumed service. ^7 

At this time VanCampen was assigned with a company of men in 
charge of the Wilkes-Barre fort. While on a scouting expedition, he 
captured a British officer, by name of Allan, journeying southward. It 
was established that the prisoner was actually an emissary from the Six 
Nations journeying to Philadelphia to arrange peace between Pennsyl- 
vania and the Six Nations. The prisoner was then freed by VanCampen, 
who warned him that he was so bitterly hated for the cruelty exercised on 
the frontier, that it would not be safe for him to travel alone. Van- 
Campen thwarted serious threats against Allan's life. He then broke 
camp and conducted the emissary far enough down the river for him to 
resume his journey alone in safety. Allan was able to complete his jour- 
ney and with the result that peace was established. ^^ 

VanCampen and his company continued in the military service at 
Wilkes-Barre until November, when news was received that the terms of 
the peace had been ratified. ^9 The company then disbanded and the 
soldiers returned to private life.^^ 

1. Battle, History of Columbia and Montour Counties, pp. 57-58. 

2. Clement, "Fort Augusta and the Sullivan Expedition," Northumberland Pro- 
ceedings, V, p. 62. 

3. Dunaway, History of Pennsylvania, pp. 155-156. 

4. Carmer, The Susquehanna, p. 128. 

5. Bradsby, History of Luzerne County, pp. 111-112; Godcharles, Daily Stories of 
Pennsylvania, p. 456; Munsell, History of Luzerne Lackawanna and Wyoming 
Counties, Pa., pp. 51-52; Wallace, Paul, Indians in Pennsylvania, pp. 160-161. 

6. Battle, op. cit., p. 58. 

7. Letter of William Maclay to President Reed of Pennsylvania, quoted in Freeze, 
History of Columbia County, p. 25, April 2, 1780. 

8. Carter, "Indian Incursions in Old Northumberland County During the Revo- 
lutionary War," Northumberland Proceedings, XXVI, p. 21, (item 51). 

9. The main sources for the VanCampen incidents are: Hubbard's biography, 
Minard's Edition; Wagner, W. F., Lieutenant Moses VanCampen, A Soldier of 
the American Revolution, containing narratives of subject's activities and an 
exhaustive compilation of related and associated papers, 234 pages; Theiss, ed., 


"Major Moses VanCampen," an article in Northumberland Proceedings, XIV, 
pp. 98-114. This quotes an independent narrative by VanCampen published in 
1845. Extensive quotations from one or more of these sources are found in other 
references listed. A large proportion of these references are basically from Van- 
Campen himself, so that the question of his credibility arises. His accounts are 
confirmed, with one exception, in all details where there is independent 
testimony. This one exception is in the respective parts played in the scuffle in 
which the prisoners killed guards and made their escape. The credibility of Pike, 
the one who in this case impugns VanCampen 's story, had his own account im- 
pugned. Pike's later life was a rather disreputable one compared with Van- 
Campen 's. VanCampen was repeatedly entrusted with delicate and dangerous 
missions as a soldier. In his later civic life he built up an enviable reputation of 
trustworthy service as a professional surveyor and as a public office holder. We 
have followed the example of other writers, notably W. F. Wagner, in trusting 
these basic sources. 

VanCampen rose to the rank of Lieutenant in Revolutionary military service. 
Later he attained the rank of major in the local militia. These facts will account 
for the differing titles, respectively used at the earlier or later times. 

Battle, op. cit., pp. 185; 207-209; 203-213 (this is a reference disparaging to 
VanCampen); Freeze, op. cit., pp. 22-29; 32-33 (this contains a defense of Van- 
Campen in comparison with a critic); Frontier Forts. I, 359-360; 369-372; Hub- 
bard, Moses VanCampen, pp. 147 ff; Meginnis, Otzinachson, pp. 276-280; 
Wagner, Lieutenant Moses VanCampen; Wright, Historical Sketches, pp. 
208-218 (this contains serious imputations as to VanCampen's credibility regard- 
ing certain aspects of his account of escape from their Indian captors). 

10. Frontier Forts, I, pp. 376-377; Godcharles, op. cit., p. 615; Penna. Archives, VIII, 
p. 567. Sometimes this fort was called Montgomery. After the end of the war, 
Montgomery returned with his family. Since their buildings had all been burned 
by the Indians, the fort for a long time was used as the family residence. When a 
new residence was constructed later, the old fort was used for crops and farm 
tools. It is now showing signs of serious deterioration. It would seem to be a most 
worthy structure for historical preservation. 

11. Bradsby, op. cit., p. 200; Frontier Forts, I, pp. 366-367; Godcharles, op. cit., pp. 
614-616; Penna. Archives, idem. 

12. Bakeless, Turncoats, Traitors and Heros, pp. 294-298. This reference supports 
the opinion held by many that some, at least of the Quakers were Tories; 
Bradsby, idem. 

13. Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 182-185. 

14. Bradsby, idem; Hubbard, op. cit., p. 185. 

15. Bradsby, op. cit., pp. 200 ff; Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 185-190. It is not to be con- 
fused with Sugarloaf Township in northern Columbia County. 

16. The only authority for this incident is Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 190-195. It is con- 
sistent with the incident recorded by Eshelman, A History of Catawissa Friends' 
Meeting, p. 9. 

17. Eshelman, op. cit., pp. 9-11. 

18. Eshelman, idem. Two or three other Quakers who had been imprisoned about 
the same time are not recorded in the minutes. This was because having taken the 
oaths of allegiance to the Patriot cause, these persons were dropped from the 
Meeting. Quakers disapprove of oaths. The result is that their situation is not re- 
corded in the official minutes of the Meeting. 

19. Battle, op. cit., p. 153; Freeze, op. cit., p. 22; Frontier Forts, I, p. 373. 

20. Freeze, op. cit., p. 23, quoting President Reed's letter, September 8, 1781. 

21. Frontier Forts, I, p. 373. 

22. Battle, op. cit., pp. 273-274. 

23. Battle, op. cit., p. 273. 

24. Battle, op. cit., p. 153. 

25. Battle, op. cit., p. 286. For anyone who wishes to read further of the period in 
which the Pennsylvania-New York frontier in the 1600's and 1700's was wrested 




from the Indians, probably the best account is Brewster, The Pennsylvania and 
New York Frontier. History From 1720 to the Close of the Revolution. The tense- 
ness and dangers of the times are vivid, the Indian leaders and spokesmen come 
alive in their travels and conferences, in their speeches and negotiations. 
Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 210 ff . The chapter from which this citation is taken plus 
the following chapters, SVII to XX inclusive, give many interesting sidelights on 
soldiers' experiences during the Revolution which, however, are not directly con- 
nected with our history. Also see Theiss, op. cit., p. 110; Wagner, op. cit., pp. 

Hubbard, op. cit., p. 267. 
Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 267-270. 
Hubbard, op. cit., p. 270; Theiss, op. cit., p. 114. 
Hubbard, idem; Theiss, idem. 



QjiiJju ^ /(W c/a/^{u4^j 

Cabins and log houses, when first built, were in stump-studded fields, 
surrounded by dense woodlands. The nearest neighbor was probably a 
long distance away, possibly miles away. The first cabins were com- 
posed of the straightest logs procurable. They were notched at the ends 
so that they would fit together alternately along the intersecting walls so 
as to make a secure structure. The later structures were composed of 
squared logs which were more secure and were called log houses. The 
cabins were for more temporary shelter. The houses were used for many 
years. Some, which were later covered by protective sheathing, are still 
in use. 
Artist and researcher, Joan L. Romig; also Clyde R. Luchs' studies. 



Pioneer Settlements Resumed 
After the War for Independence 

Obstructions to Settlements Removed 

It should be recalled that during the Revolution migrations to the lands of 
the New Purchase were much reduced but never completely ended. Num- 
bers of settlers survived the violence of frontier warfare by fleeing to 
their previous home lands. Most of these returned sooner or later after 
the emergency flights. The scattered and imperfect records of that con- 
fused time indicate that a few were able to remain throughout the war. 
The harvesting of crops that had already been planted and which repre- 
sented the settlers' entire wealth, must have been a strong inducement to 
return. Finally, with the peace with Great Britain and the Indians, the 
fear of hostilities subsided and the migration to the frontier was 

Difficulties of Travel 

Conditions of travel changed slowly from those experienced by the 
first explorers. One of these early travelers left this record: "The forest is 
so dense that for a day the sun could not be seen and so thick that you 
could not see twenty feet before. The path, too, was so bad that horses 
were stuck and had to be extricated from bogs and at other points it lay 
full of trees that had been blown down by the wind and heaped so high 
that we were at a loss to know whether to turn to the right or to the 
left.... " This was recorded in 1745.2 Even as late as 1795, a visiting 
Frenchman reported that the road along our North Branch of the Sus- 
quehanna was always in the woods, monotonous, and without any 
view.-^ When these towering trees provided shade, the traveling was 
most pleasant.'* 


Indian Trails 

At first the only "highways" were the Indians' trails, merely footpaths 
about a foot and a half wide, at places worn to a foot in depth. ^ They 
made a complex pattern which led with remarkable directness to the vari- 
ous destinations of the users. ^ Indian messengers along these paths may 
have covered a hundred miles in a day.'^ 

When traversing the mountains, steep and narrow trails, often rocky, 
were especially hazardous. They were even more so when hemmed in by 
cliffs on one side and a sheer drop on the other, or when the deep and 
crusted snow made for insecure footing for man and horse. ^ 

Other travelers encountered were generally friendly. This includes 
the Indians, until their hostility had been aroused. Even when the 
troubles resulted in war, there were numerous instances of friendly Indi- 
ans helping the settlers.^ 

As settlers took up their land holdings, their first conditions were 
primitive. The following summarized account of a missionary. Rev. 
Frederick A. Muhlenberg, in June, 1771, gives a revealing insight into 
conditions of travel immediately following the New Purchase: 

....At 2 o'clock we reached the Susquehanna a few miles below Sha- 
mokin (now called Sunbury), having come over the lofty Mahanoy 
Mountains. No one lives on this side of the river. There is a house 
on the other side. We began to shout [for help in crossing!, then 
used all kinds of signals, hanging a shirt on a pole, but to no avail. 
The river here is fully a mile wide and so deep and full of rocks at 
the bottom that it can very seldom be forded. Just as we were about 
to try wading, we saw a canoe start out from the far side. Two 
girls, really only children, rowed across. [That it was "rowed" 
shows that the canoe was a dug-out canoe.) Since the horses could 
not be led by anyone in the canoe, the two men removed their 
outer clothing and rode across bareback, [with, it is presumed, the 
baggage taken in the canoe. 1 The horses fell a number of times on 
account of the rocks and at places the riders were compelled to 
swim the horses. 

The houses in this vicinity could hardly be more wretched: 
without chimney, floor, no divisions into rooms, little more than a 
man's height, covered with strips of bark. Whoever travels here 
carries his bed, i.e., his blanket with him. This serves as a coat, 
overcoat, saddle, trough for his horse, and last of all as a bed.^^ 

However deep and extensive the forests were, the traveler could ex- 
pect to find breaks in them. Indian cabins might be found, abandoned 
when their builders moved to a new site to find new hunting areas after 
their cultivated lands declined in productiveness. ^^ Also when the New 
Purchase was made, the Indians were expected to depart, thus leaving 


habitations. Clearings made by the fur traders would be found. There 
would have been shelters for the traders themselves and also for their 
trade goods or for the furs taken in trade. ^^ Huts of previous travelers 
might be available. A one-night lean-to, constructed by a previous 
traveler, might be utilized. Lacking this, one could be constructed of fir 
boughs covered with strips of bark. Often times at night, there was 
nothing to do but to bed down on evergreen boughs freshly cut, the dark 
sky studded with stars for the ceiling. Rain might just have to be 
endured. The minimal comforts provided by such shelters were further 
reduced by the infestation of insects. ^-^ Not only were there mosquitoes, 
but lice and fleas, mentioned again and again by travelers, made repose 
possible only for those whose weariness was so great that they could not 
be denied their sleep. ^^ 

Food had necessarily to be carried along, although additional sup- 
plies might be secured from game, maybe a deer or a bear, turkeys, and 
also from the streams abounding with fish. Rattlesnake meat was re- 
ported as being delicious. Maybe more meat than a previous traveler 
could eat would be left hanging from a bough for those following, or pre- 
served in the water of an ice-cold spring. Occasionally one might encoun- 
ter travelers who would share their surplus. In season, wild fruits or nuts 
might be enjoyed. ^^ 

Travel and Transportation 

Gradually, pack horses brought about a widening of the trails. Those 
leading northwest from Lancaster, Reading, or Easton had numerous 
mountains to cross. When going up or down steep or rocky trails or 
along narrow cliffs these trails were very hazardous, especially for pack 
horses with heavy loads. ^^ 

Pack horses were of necessity widely used in bringing the settlers to 
their frontier properties. They continued to be the basic form for trans- 
portation of freight for many years. The many workers who gained their 
livelihood from the employment afforded, resisted the construction of 
improved roads which allowed heavy wagon traffic. Many men engaged 
heavily in the business employing extensive trains of horses. Two men 
would attend the train, one in front with a bell on the lead horse, the 
other man in the rear, keeping all in line, each horse tethered by a lead- 
ing strap to the horse in front. Regular pack saddles were provided. The 
loads might be as much as 250 pounds. Where ponies were found to be 
more useful for narrow, steep, and twisting trails, the loads were 180 to 
200 pounds. Freighting by this means was expensive. A ton freighted by 
this method from Philadelphia to Erie in 1784 cost $250. Thus with slow 
and toilsome step, the caravan would wind its course across hill and dale, 


bearing its burdens, braving severe storms or summer showers, and often 
streams converted to raging torrents. At such times it would be necessary 
to wait until the waters subsided. One party late in August, 1770, noted 
fording the Susquehanna in the vicinity of Catawissa with the water 
"scarce belly deep of our horses." This same party was able to have its 
heavy things taken over in a canoe of a settler at that place. Such occa- 
sional boat or canoe facilities gradually led to regular ferry services. 
Horses or cattle might be tethered to the boat and compelled to swim. I'' 

Pack horses were used by many of the first settlers, but probably not 

with as many horses in a train as are shown in this picture. Also, before 

trails became wider, ponies were preferred as being suited to narrow 

trails. This form of freight transportation was used for many years, or 

until turnpikes and improved roads became generally available. 

William H. Shank, Indian Trails to Super Highways, p. 18, with permission of the 
author. See also: Battle, History of Columbia and Montour Counties, p. 248; 
Bradsby, History of Montour County, p. 21. 

Trails were gradually widened into roads for wagon traffic. This was 
mostly after the Revolution, but references to wagon traffic are found for 
the earlier years. ^^ Often the roads were not much better than paths, full 
of stumps, stones, deep with dust in the summer, quagmires of mud in 
spring and fall.^^ 


Revived Interest in Susquehanna Lands 

We have evidence of revived interest in the Susquehanna lands even 
before the end of the Revolution. After peace had been secured, the 
building up of settlements was resumed. Also, additional settlers came, 
some in the 1780's, but with increasing numbers in the 1790's. 

Shifting of Travel Routes 

There was also a shifting of routes. The earlier practice of journeying 
to Harrisburg was not in a direct line, and it incurred laborious boat trips 
against the current when using the river. Settlers from the southeast 
began coming more directly to Bear Gap and then to Catawissa along a 
route which must have been close to that of Pennsylvania 487. Still more 
directly from the Schuykill River Valley, a route for a long time has 
crossed Little Mountain and then led to Catawissa along the southern 
slope of Catawissa Mountain. These roads, tending to converge on Cata- 
wissa brought settlers to that community and also to others that were to 
grow in the immediate region. This route is represented very closely by 
routes Pennsylvania #42, to Legislative #19087, 1905. 

At Catawissa it seems that many Quakers had never left their homes 
during the war. 20 Those who had fled from the harassment or who were 
forced to leave, returned to restore their ruined buildings and neglected 

The growth of the community was promoted when William Hughes 
bought a tract of land, ninety-two and a quarter acres, in what is now the 
central part of Catawissa. The most attractive part he laid out into lots 
with main streets and side streets. This became the basic street pattern of 
the town, still followed. 22 At first his town was called Hughesburg, but 
later the old name of Catawissa came to be attached to it. A study of the 
records shows that he was able to sell his lots at about three times their 
proportionate cost to him. Settlers came. 

Thus early Catawissa became a leader in growth. The first store be- 
tween Wyoming and Sunbury was established, date not known, to be 
followed by others. Later, when a boat began to ply between Catawissa 
and points on the North and West Branches, Catawissa became an im- 
portant and well-known point. 

At first the Quakers shared in this growth. They advanced in popu- 
lation sufficiently to build the Catawissa Meeting House by 1790,23 and 
to have their group recognized as a Monthly Meeting in 1796, as noted in 
Chapter One. 24 

Catawissa became the center for the growth of the Quaker movement 
in central Pennsylvania. It seemed to be a helper in the building up of a 
group at Roaring Creek, (Slabtown), near which the Roaring Creek 
Meeting House was built in 179625 Its first Monthly Meeting was held in 


Catawissa Quaker Meeting House - Erected 1789 or 1790. 

Rhoads, History of Catawissa and Roaring Creek Quaker Meetings, with permission 
of the Willard R. Rhoads Estate. 

Decline of Quaker Strength 

The Catawissa Monthly Meeting gave help in meetings started at Ber- 
wick, Shamokin (Bear Gap), and at Fishing Creek (Millville,*) and at 
more distant places up the West Branch. ^'^ 

After these encouraging developments, beginning shortly after 1800, 
large numbers of Quakers migrated to the Province of Ontario, with a 
few others going to Ohio. With no records of causes, we can only make 
inferences. It seems unlikely that the harassments during the Revolution, 
which were severe for some people, were the cause, for those were 
twenty or more years in the past. The remembrance of them may have 
strengthened other causes. The Quakers who had had Tory leanings 
would have had no difficulty in renewing their allegiance to the British 
crown. The Quakers may have been disappointed in the fertility of the 
Catawissa lands. 

The Quakers, however, were no more immune to the "land fever" 
that was sweeping the country than were people of other religious faiths. 

*In some contexts for these early times the term Fishing Creek means "Millville", as in 
this case. In another context it means the land in the vicinity of the confluence of this 
creek with the river. For the period between 1789 and 1797 Fishing Creek Township 
extended from the Fishing Creek itself to the Luzerne County Line. Battle, op. cit., p. 
219; Freeze, History of Columbia County, p. 55. 


It was this "fever" that had brought them to the Catawissa region twenty 
years earlier. They also desired to acquire frontier lands at low prices, to 
bring them under cultivation, and then to improve them with the neces- 
sary buildings for comfortable homes for future enjoyment, or to sell 
them at a fine profit. The accounts of new land in Ontario, to be had for 
low prices, it is inferred, was the major cause for this Quaker emigration. 
Whatever the causes, the Quaker population at Catawissa declined. ^^ 
Most of the Quakers seemed to have left Catawissa. Departures from 
Roaring Creek were later and the numbers were smaller. The Catawissa 
Meeting was "laid down" (given up) in 1808, and Roaring Creek in 1828. 
Both areas declined in Quaker population. ^^ 

Quaker Heritage 

The Catawissa Meeting lingered as a subordinate branch of stronger 
meetings elsewhere. It continued till about 1903.^ Many people there 
and elsewhere still carry the names of the earnest and diligent people. 
Their successors on the land were enabled to have the benefit of 
woodlands reduced to cultivation of sturdy houses already built. Two 
venerable log meeting houses with their associated burying grounds are 
mute but eloquent reminders of these pioneers. Names perpetuated by 
descendents of these early founders include: Hayhurst, Jackson, Knap- 
penbergs, Lloyds, Mears, Shoemakers, Watsons, and Willitts.^^ 

Others Took the Place of the Quakers 

The task of continuing the building of civilized communities in our 
county was left for others to take up. In the southern half of our county, 
settlers from the southeastern counties and of German stock predomi- 
nated, although other groups were represented. At Catawissa, with the 
Quakers who were left and others who came in to take their places, the 
community continued to grow. Catawissa continued to be a leading com- 
munity of the region. 

Settlements South of Catawissa 

In the northern valley of the Roaring Creek, land patents were secur- 
ed from the Proprietors as soon as any part of the County. The first 
settlers were the Quakers in the vicinity of the Quaker Meeting House 
still standing near the village of Slabtown, often referred to as Roaring 
Creek. As in the case of Catawissa, most of the Quaker settlers were suc- 
ceeded by others, mostly Germans. •'^ 

Settlements in the Upper Catawissa Creek Valley 

Up the Catawissa Creek, there were undoubtedly local paths since 
developed into roads. Legislative Route 19104 leads to attractive farm 
lands. Beyond the Mainville Gap, between Catawissa and Nescopeck 


Mountains, lie both hill and bottom lands which attracted interest of 
speculators and settlers as early as any place in the county. Isaac and 
Margaretta John settled on their purchase of 300 acres in 1772. They oc- 
cupied a one-story log cabin, whose door was in the roof and reached by 
a ladder from the outside. "It seems almost incredible, but it is a well 
attested fact that a family of ten children was brought up in this 
house. "-^-^ In the dangerous summer of 1778,* they were twice compelled 
to leave their farm. By 1808, three (and possibly more) families had 
settled in the Maine Township region. 

Only two attempts were made at settlement beyond the Mainville 
Gap. One settler, Alexander McCauley, fled from threatening dangers 
and the other, Andrew Harger, was abducted by the Indians, and held 
captive for a year. He finally escaped after a year's captivity.^ 

Settlements up the River from Catawissa 

Catawissa also came to be a point of departure for settlers who 
wished to reach the attractive flat lands across from the site of Fort Jen- 
kins. We have already recounted tragedies from Indian attacks, showing 
that there must have been settlers there. The records show that they 
gained access from Catawissa and Mainville using routes now followed 
by Legislative Routes 19021 and 19016 and finally, to the flats by Route 
34, by modem Mifflinville.-^^ 

The early settlers came from New Jersey's western county of Warren. 
Family names included are: Aten, Angle, Bowman, Brown, Creasy, Gru- 
ver, Kern, Kirkendall, and Koder. Later, German elements from Berks 
were added: Hartzels, Mensingers, Mostellers, and Zimmermans.^^ 

In 1794, John Kunchel and William Rittenhouse laid out a town, and 
gave it the name of Mifflinsburg, later changed to Mifflinville, after 
Thomas Mifflin, Pennsylvania's governor at that time. Its location was 
about thirty miles from Wilkes-Barre up-river on the northeast and the 
same distance from Sunbury down river on the southwest. In 
anticipation that this favorable location would eventually make their 
town a county seat for a new county, these two planners made a street 
plan on a very liberal scale. The two main streets were made 132 feet 
wide. An acre of ground was reserved for public buildings. What might 
have been a central public square was never realized in that form. With 
the failure of the town to attract settlers, the proprietors lost interest and 
faihed "to exercise any supervision over (the town's) affairs. Many lots 
were occupied and improved without any formal purchase, and are held 
to this day, (in 1887) with no tenure save the right of possession. "^^ 

*It was in this summer when the Indian attacks became more intense and the Battle of 
Wyoming took place. 


'Rv.fy^yL Loa^lu'lcLuiq. 

1 a;/^/ 

The log house constructed by Leonard Rupert in 1788 comprised three 
rooms instead of the usual one in a log structure. It was considered a 
marvel of frontier architecture and was lived in for thirty years. Later it 
served for many years for farm purposes. The main part is still standing, 
1976, but seriously deteriorated. 

From the part still standing with evidence of the part previously 
removed, and from records available, the artist has made the above 
drawing. It shows how the building probably looked just after it was 
finished with its squared logs still showing the bright colors of freshly 
hewn timber. The original roof was probably composed of wooden 
shingles, three feet long. 
Battle, History of Columbia and Montour Counties, p. 261. 

Beginnings at Rupert 

In 1788, Leonard Rupert and family with their household goods, 
migrated from the city of Reading, up through the Schuykill River Val- 
ley, using the road from the south east from Reading to Catawissa, 
across Little Mountain previously noted. From there the journey up the 
eastern bank of the river continued to a place about the same as now oc- 
cupied by the railroad bridge. Here they were confronted with the neces- 
sity of crossing the river. Two canoes (they must have been dugout 
canoes) were placed a short distance from each other. One wagon was 


allotted for a pair of canoes, the wheels on one side in one canoe, and the 
wheels of the other side in the other. A place for the rowers was devised 
in the middle under the wagon. The record is that the wagons, and later, 
the rest of the equipment plus the people, were landed on the opposite 
shore, just below the mouth of Fishing Creek. A rude log cabin, presum- 
ably left by a squatter, was found and lived in until a more suitable house 
could be constructed.^ 

Leonard Rupert was the first permanent settler in what was to be 
Montour township. A valley opened up at Rupert and continued in a 
generally western direction. About 1800, other settlers entered this valley 
using the route which Rupert had marked out. Michael Bright, his father- 
in-law was one. Others who followed were predominately Germans, 
leading to Dutch Valley as the name that was adopted. These settlers in- 
cluded families with the names of Blecker, Dietterich, Frey, Hittle, 
Lazarus, Leiby, and Tucker. ^^ 

The Hemlock Creek Valley 

Just below the built-up section of Bloomsburg, and on the opposite 
side of Fishing Creek, a small stream enters. It is called Hemlock Creek. 
Its valley leads into a rich and varied country. Some of its riches in farm 
land and in timber, especially Hemlock, were made apparent at an early 
day. Some of its mineral wealth was not to be made known until later. 

Elisha Barton, born in Virginia in 1742, came to the Hemlock Creek 
region about 1781. He acquired a large tract stretching from the conflu- 
ence of the two creeks to the vicinity of modem Buckhom, a distance of 
over three miles. '^'^ Settling on the land, he and his wife lived in their 
wagon until their cabin was completed.'*^ 

Peter Brugler entered this region about 1788 or 1789 and acquired a 
tract of about 600 acres extending from Frosty Valley to the Dall.* A tra- 
dition is recorded that Brugler killed an Indian who was attempting to 
stalk him. 1788 or 1789 seems to the writer, a long time after the war for 
such an incident to have happened. '^ 

Other families, chiefly German, were to follow within a few years: 
Applemans, Ohls, Hartmans, Neyharts, Whitenights, Leidys, Girtons, 
Menningers, Merles, Grubers, Yocums, and Haucks. Coming from the 
southeast, Berks and Northampton Counties, and from neighboring 
regions of New Jersey, they used a route across Broad Mountain to the 
vicinity of Nescopeck Creek, to be more fully described later. ^-^ 

*This popular name is a corruption of the name given by the German settlers Liebens- 
thal, pronounced as though spelled, lee-bens-tall. It might be translated as Lovely 


Further Attempts at Settlement in the Bloomsburg Region 

Up the river from Catawissa, at the mouth of Fishing Creek and be- 
yond, lay lands which were mostly level or gently sloping, lands which 
eventually would make up Bloomsburg. We have noted previously that 
they were attractive to James McClure who had encamped there as early 
as 1769. He purchased 300 acres in 1772. Before the Revolution he was 
joined by a number of others, chiefly Quakers, who hoped to build up a 
Quaker Community in this area, similar to the one down the river at Cat- 
awissa. Others joined this little group of residents, all living on land 
which would eventually become part of Bloomsburg, but not necessarily 
the built-up part. Included in this number were: John Doan, the Clay- 
tons, Coopers, Kinneys, and Evan Owen, all on nearby lands. At the 
"Point," where Fishing Creek flows into the river, Samuel Boone, 
another Quaker from Exeter Township in Northampton County, pur- 
chased 400 acres. He was to give his name also to the important Boone's 
Dam. Evan Owen, a Quaker of Welsh descent, purchased several tracts 
of land, on one of which, as the records show, he had a residence, un- 
doubtedly a log cabin, in 1771. His main residence, however, was in 

Evan Owen Leaves the Lower Fishing Creek Area 

Evan Owen did not remain. Perhaps he felt that the Fishing Creek 
lands were too swampy, which they were at places. Perhaps he was con- 
cerned about the developing hostilities between the Yankee forces at 
Wyoming and the Pennamite forces of the Pennsylvania Proprietorial 
government. Whatever the case, he gradually divested himself of his 
Fishing Creek properties and turned his interest to the area in the vicinity 
of the Nescopeck "falls," actually rapids. Also, he had grander prospects 
in mind than bringing a single farm under cultivation and establishing a 
homestead.*^ Owen, with a companion, John Doan, explored and sur- 
veyed lands between Briar Creek and the Summer Hills, and also exten- 
sively in the Nescopeck Creek region. (At some time he had acquired the 
knowledge of surveying.) "Historians estimate that he must have been in 
the region for several weeks, camping in the woods at night and survey- 
ing during the day." This is stated to have been in 1780, the year of the 
VanCampen and other tragedies! Eventually, he became a real estate 
dealer, possessing about three thousand acres of land, the equivalent of 
over four square miles. In 1787 Owen chose the section of his holdings on 
the north side of the River at the Nescopeck Rapids as the site of a town 
he was planning.'*^ 

Owen Lays Out a Town 

In 1783, Owen purchased land for his projected town of Owensburg. 
(sometimes written Owensville). 


Evan Owen surveyed and laid out Oak, Vine, Mulberry, Market, 
Pine, Chestnut, Walnut, and Butternut Streets, with ten lots, generally 
on each block fronting Front, Second, and Third Street; seventeen blocks 
in all with some additional ones not quite so long. Additional lots were 
laid out on the river front, and others where the land configuration called 
for a different arrangement. This system extended only to Third Street. 
Generally these lots, with exceptions as indicated, were 49y2' frontage 
and a depth of 181 V2'. These were the town lots or inlots. North of Third 
Street were the outlots, generally IMVi frontage by 412' in depth, 
equivalent to about two acres. Everyone who bought a town lot, re- 
ceived an outlot free. This outlot must have contained virgin timber. ^^ It 
would also be a source of firewood, ^^ and later useful for pasturage — 
who didn't keep a cow in those days? It would become a place for garden 
projects with eventual sale as the demand for land would increase. Cer- 
tainly it would be advantageous to buy one of Evan Owen's town lots, 
and secure one outlot besides. ^^ This system of inlots and outlots was 
widely prevalent in New England, but does not seem to have been much 
used in Pennsylvania. It was followed nowhere else in our county. 

Land Prices in Berwick 

We do not have figures stating how much Owen paid for the tract of 
land that he laid out. Other tracts being sold at that time suggest a price 
level of $200 for 100 acres. In selling off his lots, in several of what seem 
like representative cases, Owen secured thirty dollars for each combi- 
nation of one town lot and one outlot. ^^ 

Other Inducements to Buy Lots in Owensburg 

Owen, as further inducement for purchase in his town of Owensburg, 
offered free land for any religious group, on which it could erect its meet- 
ing house. ^^ It must have been highly satisfactory to Owen when he and 
his wife, both Quakers, in 1810, were able to give to "the Society of 
People called Friends", two town lots and part of one outlot for a meeting 
house, school house, and burying ground. ^^ 

During all these years since 1771, Evan Owen had continued to main- 
tain his residence in support of his family in the Philadelphia region. He 
was noted as being a member of one or another Quaker Meeting there, 
and of the local militia. Even after laying out of the town, he continued 
to maintain his Philadelphia residence. 

Owen's Real Estate Activities 

Evidence indicates that Owen was busily selling his lands and in- 
ducing settlers to come to his town of Owensburg. ^^ In fact, for the rest 
of his life, his chief activity seemed to be selling off lots in his town or 
tracts from his other extensive holdings. It is said that Owen traveled 


through the country from Berwick to Philadelphia selling lots to 
pioneers. But the lots did not seem to sell rapidly. It seems that up to 1789 
or 1790, there were very few people living there. 

The lack of good roads retarded the early settling of the town. The 
necessary goods had to be brought into the settlement from Philadelphia 
to Middletown or Harrisburg by land and thence by boats up the river to 
Berwick and on to Wyoming. The Executive Council in Philadelphia 
realized that if this part of the country was to be opened for settlement, 
better transportation facilities would have to be made. Evan Owen was a 
surveyor as well as Proprietor of Berwick. 54 

A Road was Constructed from Lehigh to Nescopeck 

On the assumption that the man most interested in developing a road 
would be the fittest to be employed to execute the work, Evan Owen was 
appointed to explore, survey, and mark out the best public route and 
then superintended the construction of the road. Evan Owen was able to 
report the completion of this road in 1790. ^^ After the completion of the 
road, it was not long until the town began to grow.^^ 

Evan Owen, himself, moved with his family in 1793 or 1794. ■^^ 

Berwick's Name 

John Brown and Robert Brown each are noted as buying lots in 1795, 
and were recorded as having built the first houses, with Owen next.^^ 

Mrs. Robert Brown was bom in Berwick-On-The-Tweed, just north 
of the shire of Northumberland in England. She was able to influence 
Evan Owen to change the name to Berwick in honor of her birthplace. 

Evan Owen a Leading Citizen 

Besides being proprietor, Owen was a leading citizen. For nearly 
thirty years he filled several different public offices with dignity, respect 
to himself, and satisfaction to his fellow citizens. He also made donations 
to different religious societies. ^^ 

While attention has been given to events and developments in the 
Berwick and Catawissa regions, consideration should be given to what 
was happening in other places. 

Moses VanCampen Returns to Fishing Creek Region 

On his return from military service, in 1783, VanCampen married 
Margaret McClure, daughter of James McClure, an early settler of the 
Fishing Creek region, as noted in Chapter 2. He took up the management 
of Widow McClure's farm, located on the river front of what was to be 
Bloomsburg. Later in 1789, he moved with his family to the Briar Creek 
region. It is inferred that he made substantial improvements on this land. 
He sold this land when a good opportunity offered, and moved with his 


family, now grown to include five daughters, to western New York in 
1795, where attractive lands were being opened up.^ VanCampen's resi- 
dence in Briar Creek probably made it possible for him to acquire suf- 
ficient capital for an advantageous purchase of attractive lands else- 
where. Hubbard's account also records that VanCampen gave a plot to 
an "evangelical society," when it had completed a building on it.^^ 

A quotation from our source is interesting in its own right, but is also 
instructive of the journeys of settlers to the frontiers of that time. 

The journey from Briar Creek to Almond [the New York des- 
tination! must of necessity have been attended with many interest- 
ing, and quite likely some exciting incidents, involving as it did, 
the poling up the Chemung and Canisteo rivers of flat bottomed 
boats or arks, laden with their household effects and other prop- 
erty which they needed to make a start with in the "new country" 
to which they were going. 

Of a necessity it must have been laborious, annoying, and at- 
tended with more or less danger; and the five little girls, the eldest 
eleven years of age and the youngest a babe in its mother's arms, 
certainly afforded sufficient objects for maternal concern and 
anxiety. ^^ 

It is not within the scope of this work to review VanCampen's career 
in his new environment except to say that he came to be a trusted sur- 
veyor, to receive responsibilities of Justice of the Peace, and other public 
office, to become a major in the militia, and the recipient of high civic 
honors. *^^ 

Regions of the Future Townships of North and South Centre 

Frederick Hill in 1792 purchased the site of the ruined Fort Jenkins. He 
erected a house and used it as a hotel, the first in the limits of the County. 
Travel so increased up and down the river road on which his hotel was 
located that in 1799 Abram Miller constructed another. Being half way 
between Bloomsburg and Berwick, it came to be called the Half-Way 
House. Other families were added to the region of what was to be North 
Centre Township and South Centre Township. Henry Hidlay definitely 
settled in the northern part. John Hoffman, Nehemiah, Hutton, and 
James Cauley, and others not identified settled in the general area.^ 

Slow Growth in the Lower Fishing Creek Area 

Growth in the area that was to be Bloomsburg was slow. It is in the 
opinion of the writer, based on geographical considerations and histori- 

*It was at this time that VanCampen joined the post-war reorganization of the militia. 
He was elected major by an almost unanimous vote. Thereafter he was known as 
Major. Hubbard, op. cit., p. 181. 


cal factors, that the overland traffic routes diverted traffic to the higher 
land north of the river properties. An Indian path, called the Great War- 
riors Path, coming up the river valley to the outskirts of the lower Fish- 
ing Creek region used this higher land north of that bordering the river. 
By 1800 this path had grown into a road better than average for the 
time.^^ Where this road turned southward (now East Street) the Fishing 
Creek Path branched off to the northeast (modern Lightstreet Road). We, 
of course, must envision a winding path along these levels, necessarily 
such in order to cross two rivulets, one near Market Street, and the other 
between modern Iron and East Streets, and to avoid other natural obsta- 
cles which once must have been here and there. The site must have 
seemed most attractive to a would-be town planner. 

Ludwig Eyer, as agent,* laid out a town on a plat of land** belonging 
to John Adam Oyer. This plat provided for ninety-six lots between 
modern Iron Street and the East and West Streets; and between Front 
Street (later to be called First Street) on the north and Third Street on the 
south. A distinctive feature of his plan was to have a central open square,- 
called Market Square. Numerous other communities in Pennsylvania 
have this feature, but it is found no where else in Columbia County. 

The Name of Bloomsburg 

Bloom Township was set off from Briar Creek Township in 1798.^ 
The township, it has been stated, was named for Samuel Bloom, a 
county commissioner for Northumberland County, of which our area 
was a part at that time.^^ He was not county commissioner until 1813, 
fifteen years later, so the township could not have been named for him as 

*The spelling of this name in German is Euer, but the pronunciation is equivalent to 
the English pronunciation of Oyer. All real estate records for this name spell the name 
Oyer. On the tombstone in Old Rosemont Cemetery in Bloomsburg, the spelling is 
Eyer. Since the family seems to have preferred Eyer, and the founder's name has come 
to be popularly rendered as Eyer, this form will be used in this book. 
**The history of this parcel of land is interesting, especially so since it has been mis- 
stated elsewhere. This land, 92 acres, was granted to Henry Allshouse in 1773 by the 
proprietors. The rate for such purchases was five pounds per 100 acres. In 1795, Alls- 
house sold it to Henry Dildine for 178 pounds; Dildine sold it to Ludwig Eyer for 400 
pounds in 1796, and Ludwig Eyer sold it to John Adam Oyer on June 5, 1802 for 580 
pounds. It was the northern third of this plot which Ludwig Eyer laid out in the 96 lots 
noted above. Duy, Atlas of Bloomsburg, p. 7. 

A few sales taken at random suggest that the prices were around thirty to fifty dollars 
a lot. One lot with a house (it must have been a log house) sold for 100 pounds. This 
was roughly equal to five hundred dollars for a lot "improved" with a house. 
John Adam Oyer, after buying the land from Ludwig Eyer, made Eyer his agent both 
for laying out the land and selling lots in the Bloomsburg region. John Adam Oyer, a 
school teacher in the Northampton County area, sold some of his Bloomsburg lots in 
the Northampton area. He sold a tract of three lots at the very favorable price of sixty 
dollars to the union (combined) congregations of the Lutherans and Reformed 
churches for a church buiilding and burying ground. This site is now occupied by the 
Bloomsburg Middle School. See Columbia County Deed Book II. 


county commissioner.^ Thus the source of the name Bloom for this 
township is unsolved. Documents estabHsh that Ludwig Oyer (Eyer) used 
the name Bloomsburgh when he laid out the town in 1802. ^^ No 
convincing reason for his choice of this name has been found. Certain 
settlers coming from the vicinity of Bloomsbury, N.J., may have sug- 
gested this name or one similar to it. That the names Oyerstown or Eyer- 
staetel (Oyers little village) were used for a number of years seems clearly 
established, but they could never have been the official names. The name 
spelled Bloomsburgh was used for only a few years, when the current 
form, without the final h, became established.'''^ 

Upper Fishing Creek Settlements: Knob Mountain 

An early mention of the Knob Mountain region is in connection with 
the attack and killing of a family living at the foot of Knob Mountain in 
1780. '^ About the same time also, the Indian captors of VanCampen 
came across a party of four men making maple sugar along Huntington 
Creek. When fired upon by the Indians, the fire was returned and the 
Indians abandoned further attack.^ 

About 1785, Abraham Kline led a large party of incoming settlers. It 
consisted of his wife, "a family of grown sons, some of whom were mar- 
ried and accompanied by their families. "^^ Coming from New Jersey, the 
party had crossed Broad Mountain, then had gone on to Berwick, thence 
westward to the Fishing Creek Valley. "Following its course northward 
they cut their way through the almost impenetrable wood at Light 
Street," where there was only a single house, the farthest northern settle- 
ment in the valley. They established their first encampment on land pre- 
viously occupied by the Indians, but since altered and washed away by 
successive floods. At first they lived in their wagons and a tent. An im- 
portant source of food was milk from the cows that they had brought. It 
is observed that it was a very common practice to bring cows with the in- 
coming settlers. It is to be further observed that they, like other settlers, 
depended on wild game and fish. "Lin-trees" were felled and the leaves 
used for cattle forage, both as "grass and hay." The first cabin was con- 
structed that summer, with other members of the group adding theirs in 
the summers following. 

Other first settlers were the Whites, Parks, and Culps from New 
Jersey; the Rantz, VanHorns, Netenbachs, and Wereman families from 
Berks and Northampton Counties; and Samuel Staddon from Lancaster 
County. Ludwig Herring and the Vance and Patterson families conclude 
the known settlers on or before 1800. Other owners of land north of Fish- 
ing Creek were the families of Cutts, Montgomery, Razor, Uengling. 
South of Fishing Creek were the Jones, Christy, Peters, Randalls, and 
Abner Kline families. ^'^ 


Upper Fishing Creek Settlements: North Mountain 

In the late 1780's, a group of Neighbors in Northampton County be- 
came interested in securing new lands. John Godhard, of English descent, 
had lost his wife and was left with a "large family of daughters", just how 
many is not stated. Philip Hess became a son-in-law. Granddaughters, 
with their husbands, Philip Hess, Christian Laubach, Exekial Cole, and 
John Kile were brought into the family association. All were living in 
Williams or Forks Townships, near the confluence of the Lehigh and Del- 
aware Rivers. Philip Fritz desired a change from a confining business that 
had impaired his health. William Hess, with a family of twelve sons and 
six daughters living on unproductive acres, seemed also in need of a 
change of homestead from the "dry acres" that he cultivated. Godhard 
sold his farm and invested the proceeds in a tract of land at the head- 
waters of Fishing Creek. From whom he made the purchase and how he 
learned about the land is not clear. The whole group of interested per- 
sons prudently decided to investigate the region before moving to it. 

Accordingly, a party was made up in whole or in part of those men- 
tioned, William and Benjamin Coleman and Matthias Rhone, also 
joined. They journeyed and explored minutely, the stream from mouth 
to source. ^^ Prospectors for new land regularly studied the soil. Luxuri- 
ant forests, especially pine, oak, or black walnut, were always con- 
sidered indications of deep, rich soils. ''^ Good farm land would also need 
to be well watered, but not swampy. Although it was at a distance from 
the main travel routes, the verdict was favorable. To have made a choice 
for such a distant place, suggests a need for an attempted explanation. 
None of the roads at that time were very good. It was not a very serious 
disadvantage not to be close to one of the used roads. Farm life for the 
pioneer was isolated along Susquehanna, the upper part of the Roaring 
Creek, or any other place. The pioneer had to anticipate, to a large de- 
gree, a self-sufficient existence. If the land seemed productive, that was 
the main criterion. 

On or about 1792, migration took place. We have not a picture, but 
assume that it would have shown an impressive cavalcade, probably of 
wagons with some pack horses. Roads, of sorts, were available from 
Easton to Nescopeck, then to Fishing Creek, and up its valley. 

On the way to the Lightstreet vicinity, their route may well have 
taken them past some of the settlements in the Cabin Run — West Briar 
Creek region. Alexander Aikman had returned near the end of the war. 
Others returned or new settlers came. Benjamin Fowler, a former pris- 
oner from the British Army, settled in the region, but not before he mar- 
ried his affianced bride, a member of another family by the same name, 
who were among the new entrants.^ Others of the "compact settlement" 


that had justified the construction of Fort Wheeler in 1778 must have 
been in the vicinity. 

A few houses were passed at Lightstreet, and Abraham Kline's settle- 
ment at Knob Mountain. Daniel McHenry was already at what was to be 
Stillwater. Arrived at their destination, William Hess took land 
extending four miles up Coles Creek, to North Mountain. His sons, along 
with a number of others, settled in the general region. These early set- 
tlers included families with the following names: Bird, Cole, Harrington, 
Hartman, Hess, Kile, Laubach, Robbins, Seward, and Shultz. Many of 
these are still prominent among the north county residents.''^ 

The experiences of a group of settlers at Berwick reflect the hazards 
and hardships generally to be undergone by pioneers. About 1795j^ 
James and Robert Brown were induced by Owen to settle on his land at 
Owensburg, not yet named Berwick. After the usual hardship of an over- 
land journey, the party reached Catawissa. From that point to the Nesco- 
peck Falls canoes were required. This reference to canoes, along with 
other references, indicates that dugout canoes were available here for 
hire at this time.* 

After the burdensome journey, probably by poling fourteen or fifteen 
miles against the current in the river, a launching was affected at the foot 
of the bluff, later marked as the termination of Market Street. The house- 
hold goods and meagre supply of provisions were toilsomely carried up 
the steep Indian path, then existing, and deposited at the crest. They were 
attempting a brief rest from this ardous toil, when a sudden shower came 
upon them before their goods could be protected. At the prospect of 
passing the night without shelter or protection for their belongings, the 
women broke down into weeping. We can imagine that the men felt like 

'Leonard Ruperts's party, for instance, in 1788, as narrated above also had to use 

1. Fort Wheeler was maintained to the end of the war, and Fort McClure was con- 
structed near the end of the war and maintained until its end, both for the pro- 
tection of settlers in the region: Frontier Forts, I, pp. 369-373 ff. 

2. "Spangenberg's Journey to Onondaga, 1745" quoted by Snyder, 'The Great 
Shamokin Path," Northumberland Proceedings, XIV, p. 21 (June 10): Wallace, 
Indian Paths, p. 3. 

3. Due de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, Journey in the United States, 1795, I, pp. 
139-140, [Voyage dan les Etats-Unis d'Amerique]. 

4. Wallace, Paul, Indian Paths, quoting McClure, and Schoepf, p. 2; Wallace, 
"Indian Trails," Northumberland Proceedings, XVIII, p. 22. 

5. Dunaway, History of Pennsylvania, pp. 243-244; Where well worn paths were 
wide enough for two to walk abreast. Snyder, "Muhlenberg's Journal," 
Northumberland Proceedings, IX, p. 215; Wallace, Historic Indian Paths, p. 10. 

6. Wallace, Indian Paths, p. 2. 

7. Brewster, Pennsylvania and New York Frontier, pp. 5-6. 


8. Rev. John Ettwein's Journal, quoted by Snyder, "Great Shamokin Path," Nor- 
thumberland Proceedings, XIV, p. 28, (July 8). 

9. Instances have been given in the course of our narrative. 

10. Snyder, C.F., "Muhlenberg's Journal," Northumberland Proceedings, IX, pp. 
219-222. As late as 1795, the inhabitants of Berwick are described as living in 
"huts." Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, idem. 

11. Snyder, C.F., op. cit., p. 214. Snyder quoting "Conrad Weiser's Journey to 
Onondago," Northumberland Proceedings, XIV, pp. 15-16. 

12. Snyder, The Great Shamokin Path," quoting John Bartram, Northumberland 
Proceedings, XIV, pp. 17-18; Wallace, quoting Rev. David McClure in his diary 
September 7, 1772, Indian Paths, p. 2. 

13. Lightfoot, T. Montgomery, "Benjamin Lightfoot's Trip to Tankhannick," Nor- 
thumberland Proceedings, IX, p. 178; Wallace, op. cit., pp. 7-8. The account of 
the migration of the Palatine Germans from the Schoharie Valley of New York to 
the Swatara Creek in the year 1723 gives a good description of a long distance 
migration through four hundred miles of unsettled country. Carter, 'The 
Palatine Migration," Northumberland Proceedings, XX, pp. 1-33. David Mc- 
Clure wrote in 1772, quoted by Wallace, "Indian Highways of Pennsylvania, " in 
The Settler, III, pp. 118-119, April, 1965. 

14. Bartram's observations quoted in Snyder, op. cit., p. 16, (7th), p. 18, (12th), 
Ettwein's Journal, op. cit., p. 28, July 19; Wallace, Indian Paths. ...p. 7; Wallace, 
"Indian Highways of Pennsylvania," pp. 118-119. 

15. The various pestering insects are mentioned in many places. One example is 
"Philip Vickers Fithian's Journal," Northumberland Proceedings, VIII, p. 51. 

16. Snyder, C.F., "Muhlenberg's Journal," op. cit., pp. 214-215; Bradsby, History of 
Montour Counties, p. 21... from Battle, History of Columbia and Montour 
Counties, Pa. 

17. Lightfoot, op. cit., IX, pp. 178-179; Snyder, C.F., idem., p. 220. 

18. Fithian preached from a wagon at Warrior Run, 1775. Wood, "Fithian's Journal," 
Northumberland Proceedings, VIII, p. 57. Fithian also noted a well- 
beaten wagon road on West Branch, op. cit., p. 60. Fithian also noted a wagon 
load of goods on way to Fishing Creek, July 19, 1775, quoted by Clark, in "Pio- 
neer Life in the New Purchase," Northumberland Proceedings, VII, p. 35. 
Wagons were used in the Great Runaway on the West Branch and by John Eves at 
Little Fishing Creek. 

19. Clark, op. cit., p. 35. 

20. Battle, History of Columbia and Montour Counties, p. 274. 

21. Eshelman, A History of Catawissa Friends' Meeting, pp. 11-12. 

22. Rhoads, History of the Catawissa Quaker Meeting, pp. 16 ff. 

23. Rhoads, op. cit., p. 32. 

24. Rhoads, op. cit., p. 22. 

25. Rhoads, op. cit., p. 33. 

26. Rhoads, op. cit., p. 29. 

27. Theiss, "How the Quakers Came to Central Pennsylvania," Northumberland 
Proceedings, XXI, p. 71. 

28. Rhoads, op. cit., p. 27; Theiss, op. cit., p. 27. 

29. Eshelman, op. cit., p. 18; Rhoads, op. cit., pp. 27, 44. 

30. Rhoads, op. cit., pp. 30-54. 

31. Battle, op. cit., p. 274. 

32. Battle, op. cit., p. 294 ff.; ibid. 301 ff. 

33. Battle, op. cit., p. 292. 

34. Battle, op. cit., p. 293 f. 

35. Battle, op. cit., p. 286. 

36. Battle, op. cit., pp. 286-287. 

37. Battle, op. cit., p. 288. 

38. Battle, op. cit., p. 261. 

39. Battle, op. cit., p. 262. 

40. Beers, Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania, pp. 762-763. 


41. Beers, op. cit., p. 763. 

42. Battle, op. cit., p. 256. 

43. Battle, op. cit., p. 257. 

44. Battle, op. cit., p. 191; Beers, op. cit., p. 151. 

45. Bevilaqua, The Story of Berwick, set. "Owen Buys Land." 

46. Bishop, "Life of Evan Owen," paper no. 10 in W.P.A. Series, volume Indian Lore 
and Early Settlers. 

47. Bevilaqua, op. cit., "Plot of Berwick." 

48. Fenstermacher, Souvenior Booklet & Program, Berwicks' 175th Anniversary, p. 

49. Columbia County Deed Book. 

50. Columbia County Deed Book, I. 

51. Fenstermacher, idem., p. 13. 

52. Eshelman, op. cit., p. 21. 

53. Bishop, op. cit., p. 112. 

54. Bishop, idem. 

55. Bishop, op. cit., p. 113-114. 

56. Bishop, idem. 

57. Bishop, op. cit., p. 115. 

58. Columbia County Deed Book, I. Bevilaqua, op. cit., set., "John and Robert 
Brown Settle Here." 

59. Bevilaqua, op. cit., set., "Founder Lays Out Town." 

60. Battle, op. cit., p. 193; Fenstermacher, op. cit., p. 53. 

61. Freeze, History of Columbia County, Pennsylvania, p. 23; Hubbard, Life & 
Adventures of Moses VanCampen, p. 272. 

62. Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 272-273. 

63. Hubbard, op. cit., pp. 284-294. 

64. Battle, op. cit., p. 210. 

65. Rouchefoucauld-Liancourt, ibid. 

66. Freeze, op. cit., p. 55. 

67. Battle, op. cit., p. 160, footnote; Fisher, 'Township Names of Old Northumber- 
land County," Northumberland Proceedings, VIH, p. 243. 

68. Fisher, idem.; Snyder, C.F., "Township Names of Old Northumberland" in Nor- 
thumberland Proceedings, VIH, p. 242-243. 

69. Columbia County Deed Books. 

70. Battle, idem. 

71. Battle, op. cit., p. 247. 

72. Battle, op. cit., p. 208. 

73. Battle, op. cit., p. 249. 

74. Battle, op. cit., pp. 248-249. 

75. Battle, op. cit., p. 225. 

76. Battle, op. cit., pp. 225-226. 

77. Battle, op. cit., p. 210. 

78. Battle, op. cit., p. 225. 

79. The earliest sale of lots in Berwick to the Browns was in 1795. 

80. Battle, p. 192; Deed Book l, p. 379. 


Fence making tools. 



The Columbia County Region 
in the Early Eighteen Hundreds 

Our Region in 1795 

A French traveler, Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, journeyed through our 
region in the spring of 1795. We quote fron^ parts of his description: 
The road to Berwick is always in the woods, and, as a result, 
without any view. The houses are very poor, some cows wander- 
ing at some distance from the houses; some sheep also in the 
woods, but closer to the houses. 

We stopped at the township of Fishing Creek* [this town- 
ship took in most of the later Briar Creek and Center Town- 
ships] to refresh our horses at Abraham Miller's [the location is 
near modern Lime Ridge]; he is a farmer, has a tavern and store. 
His farm is 300 acres of which seventy are almost cleared; he 
adds yearly from 12 to 15 acres to his cleared land; but with 
some trouble, workers are not found easily; they are paid SVi 
shillings a day independent of their food estimated at about 1 
shilling 6 pence a day. [This wage was somewhat higher than 
the average for the time, approximately equivalent to twenty 
pounds or $100 per year.^] 

Here, as in almost all the places we have already gone 
through it costs three dollars an acre to clear the roots and under- 
brush in the cleared fields. They pay five shillings a day to the 
workers employed in this operation and they feed them. 

'Fishing Creek Township at this time took in that part of Northumberland County 
north of the Susquehanna and east of Little Fishing Creek. 


It is here that we used for the first time maple sugar which 
we found to be excellent. Abraham Miller sells six barrels of 
sugar a year for which he pays 13 pence a pound and which he 
sells at 15. He does not sell brown sugar from the islands except 
at 14. (He gets from Philadelphia all the merchandise for his 
store. It comes overland by cart to Catawissa, passes to the Sus- 
quehanna and arrives at Fishing Creek. The price of the trans- 
port had been until last spring a dollar a mile; it has since been 
augmented by a quarter.) 

Berwick and Approaches 

Fields sell at 8 to 10 dollars with some clearing; the ones 
covered entirely with woods two to three dollars. (I interpret 
this to mean price per acre.) Houses are rare and miserable. 
They get more numerous as one nears Berwick, a village which 
is the chief place of the township built on the bank of the river 
in a rather pretty place a little more open than the other places. 

This village is composed of about twenty ugly houses in 
which one couldn't find an egg for our supper; but there was 
some milk. The beds were rather clean, the stables good, the 
oats and hay excellent and when one travels by horse one con- 
soles oneself of not being entirely well off, provided that the 
horses have all that they need. The masters of the inn where we 
were are young and have only established themselves; they are 
good and obliging; their house is of wood and is half built; their 
property is composed of 24 acres of which they cultivate ten, 
the rest has not yet been attacked by the axe. The price of these 
lands with the beginning of clearing is at Berwick 12 dollars. 
Those entirely uncleared are from one dollar and a half to two 

The inhabitants of Berwick, who have huts which we found 
on our way today, are a mixture of English, from the country 
of Wales, Germans, Flemish, Scotch. The present emigration 
comes generally from the Jerseys, all seem poor, are badly 
dressed but their appearance of strength and health show that 
they are well nourished and overcomes their appearance of pov- 
erty. The number of children is enormous in proportion to the 
number of houses. ^ 

How Large were Our Communities about 1800? 

The reference in the above quotation to the number of children shows 
that by 1795 there were numerous families living in Berwick and vicinity. 
We have some evidence of the sizes of other areas. 


Shown above is an artist's imaginative reconstruction of a pioneer's 
homestead in the second or third season. The first constricted clearing in 
the dense forest has been enlarged to an area of several fields. The latter 
are shown still studded with stumps. These are the remains of the trees 
which provided the logs, for the house and out buildings, the worm 
fencing, and the bridge with its corduroy flooring, and also fuel for cook- 
ing and heating. The log chimney indicates the fireplace inside. 
The work of extending the cleared fields and the planting of crops is 
shown in the background. 

Typically, there would have been chickens in this picture, hidden behind 
the cabin. The growing crops, the cow and calf, and the sow and piglets 
show that the fear of famine has been removed. Surplus crops and live- 
stock also show the means of acquiring through purchase or barter, con- 
veniences from the nearby town or distant city. These are signs of 
growing prosperity. One indication is the glass in the window. 
Surely, the mother with infant in her arms can look forward to greater 
conveniences and comforts. The father has a growing farm with 
economic security assured for himself and his family. 
From Munsell, History of Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Luzerne Counties, p. 42. 

In the region where the village of Briar Creek was to grow up, settlers 
arrived about 1793. They came from Bethel, Northampton County. 
Having come in a group, they gave each other mutual aid in the task of 
clearing land and constructing the first cabins. The cabin of John Freas 
consisted of one living room with an additional room used as a stable. 
According to the best evidence available, a brick and stone structure was 



The frontiersman ax was a most important tool. The artist has shown the 
earlier forms. The modern ax, not shown, is lighter than these. The ax 
was kept sharp and the user became skillful. 
Joan L. Romig 

built to replace this first log cabin on this site by 1802. This was the first 
of such a structure in the region. These first settlers included the family 
names of Freas, Bowman, Hutton, Rittenhouse, Cauley, and Mack.-^ 

In passing through the future site of Bloomsburg, Rochefoucauld- 
Liancourt found nothing worthy of comment. His road, undoubtedly 
following the old Great Warrior's Path, would have taken his party 
north of the river settlements of the McClures, Boones, and their neigh- 
bors. These settlers mostly had remained through the Revolutionary 
troubles. When Ludwig Eyer laid out the Town of Bloomsburg in 1802, 
there were only two buildings in the platted area. One was a deserted log 
hovel with a clapboard roof and a chimney, also of logs. This was at the 
south side of Second Street below Market. Chamberlain's Hotel, at the 
corner of Second Street and Miller Alley, was of frame construction and 
two stories high. This would have been one of the first buildings not of 
log in the whole county.'* In fact, one reference leads one to conclude 
that practically all houses in Columbia County as late as 1800 were of log 

There is evidence of the presence of other buildings outside the streets 
Ludwig Eyer had planned. The Episcopalians had a building on the west 
side of the road leading from Esquire Barton's residence to Berwick, a 
road to be identified with modern East Street. The Lutherans and Re- 
formeds in the neighborhood had arrangements to use this church build- 
ing. These three religious groups give evidence of a considerable number 
of families. Soon other new families arrived and houses were erected. 
Bloomsburg was soon to become as thickly settled as any other part of 


the region. The first land purchasers included Abram Grotz, C. C. Marr, 
Christopher Kahler, and Philip Mehrling. Soon Daniel Snyder and John 
Cleman were to buy land nearby.^ 


Catawissa was recorded as having forty-five houses, one of stone in 
1801. This fact establishes it as the largest community in the region, with 
an estimated population of 200.'' The farming population nearby seems 
not to have increased markedly.^ 

Roaring Creek Valley 

To the south in Roaring Creek Valley the considerable number of 
Quakers who had come earlier, did not remain, as noted previously. 
Their places had been filled by others, who were chiefly Germans. About 
1798 a grist and saw mill was built by Samuel Cherington, for Thomas 
Linville. A mill has existed at the site ever since. The early houses which 
grew up around were built with slabs, presumably for siding, from the 
sawed logs. The predominance of this form of building material gave it 
the name of Slabtown, which has persisted, although the United States 
Government assigned, for a time, the name Roaring Creek for the Post 
Office that was early established there. ^ 

Franklin Township 

Settlements planned as early as 1783, on the side of the Susquehanna 
opposite to the mouth of Roaring Creek, were given up when the site was 
overflowed by the flood of that year. The interest of settlers was trans- 
ferred to the area south of the river and centered around the Parr's and 
Pensyl's Mills. Here, as elsewhere, the Quakers were the first settlers, but 
were succeeded by Germans. ^^ 

Rupert and Dutch Valley 

The settlers who followed Leonard Rupert and continued into the 
Dutch Valley part of Montour Township seemed to have no substantial 
increase for some time after the opening of the new century. 


Similarly, the first settlers in Hemlock did not immediately have ad- 
ditional neighbors in the early years of the century. 


There seems to have been a route, probably an old Indian path, up 
the river from Catawissa but back somewhat along the hills. Settlers used 


this path to Mifflin, as noted in the previous chapter.* The outlying 
farming land in the vicinity at first attracted settlers and the projected 
town of Mifflinsburg did not build up rapidly. In fact, at first, generally 
most of the towns built up more slowly than the surrounding farm land. 
We can infer that these outlying areas would need to have enough popu- 
lation to call for the services provided by town dwellers. ^^ 


Farther up the river, the above path led to Nescopeck, actually in 
Luzerne County, and the site of a long established Indian town. In Indian 
times and since, this site has been closely associated with the regions 
north of the river, later to be known as Berwick and Briar Creek. In 1796, 
thirty-one taxables were reported in Nescopeck village. This can be inter- 
preted as thirty six families, and a population of a hundred or more.^^ 

Knob Mountain Region 

North up the valleys of Fishing Creek, the traveler of that time, it 
would seem from available evidence, would have found widely separated 
pioneers' log buildings and patches of cleared land in the process of being 
expanded into fields. On Fishing Creek, a few miles from Bloomsburg, 
centered more or less closely around the former Fort Wheeler and the 
settlement formerly called "compact," were a number of families. They 
were the Wheelers, and other names previously mentioned and probably 
still others whose names have not come down to us. Farther up the 
Creek at Knob Mountain were Abram Kline and the settlers associated 
with him. Continuing up the Creek, the traveler would have missed the 
Dodder family up Huntington Creek to the east near its confluence with 
Pine Creek and close to modern Jonestown. Up the main stream was 
Daniel McHenry and family. The Dodders had settled in 1786 and the 
McHenrys in 1784. 1^ 


The general region of what was to be Benton Township was reported 
to have fifteen or sixteen families in 1799, which would indicate a popu- 
lation of about seventy-five or eighty. ^^ 

North Mountain 

At the headwaters of Fishing Creek near North Mountain was the 
considerable settlement of the members of the Godhard group previ- 
ously described. 

Sugarloaf is described, in 1800, as consisting of the Cole, Fritz, Hess, 

*This route is now represented, it is inferred, by Legislative Route 19020. 

Laubach, and Robbins families and must, by 1800, have approached a 
population of seventy-five to one hundred persons. ^^ 

Greenwood Valley Region 

John Eves and his family, after fleeing the county on the Indian threat 
at the time of the attack on Wyoming, remained at his Delaware home 
through the Revolution. It seems that the scattered settlers nearby in 
Greenwood Valley or the valley of Green Creek had also left the region 
at that time of danger. In 1786 or 1787 the settlement of Greenwood Val- 
ley was again begun. Eves returned to find his buildings a mass of 
charred ruins and the fields overgrown with bushes in the eight or nine 
years of absence. He and his family went to work to restore their hold- 
ings and to the work of building a community. Among those who settled 
nearby were the families of Lundy, Link, and Rich. To the Green Creek 
Valley, at the east, with their families came the four Mather brothers, 
Joshua Robbins, Archibald Patterson, and George and William 

The Jerseytoivn Region 

The neighbors who had fled after the tragic Whitmoyer attack in 
1778, recounted previously, returned that autumn. Settlement was 
resumed. The Billhimes found their former home site occupied by a 
squatter, who refused to move, a situation far from uncommon on the 
frontier. The Billhimes then took up a new location on Spruce Run. 
Daniel Welliver was accompanied by three cousins, John, Adam, and 
Christopher Welliver. John took up the site of the devastated Whitmoyer 
home. Adam occupied the site of the future Jerseytown. The others 
settled nearby. This early period of settlement indicates that this region 
was among the first to be settled. William Pegg, in 1785, extended the 
area of settlement by taking up land two miles distant of the Chillis- 
quaque. From 1785 through the following years there was a steady 
growth of settlers. The family names added, in addition to those men- 
tioned, include Hodge, Smith, Kitchen, and McCollum. John Funston 
started a store in 1791 and around it a village grew up. It was close to an 
old Indian village on the crest of the ridge dividing the waters of the 
Chillisquaque and Little Fishing Creeks. Lewis Schuyler, a Revolutionary 
veteran, came in 1794. The predominance of settlers from New Jersey, 
and especially Sussex County, led to the name Jerseytown for this 
village. By 1800 there were at least fifteen families settled in this general 

With these vague indications of the size of communities, chiefly how 
small they were, the census figures of 1800 will help in gaining more 
accurate comprehension of the population of the whole area that was to 
be our county. 


1800 Population of the General Region That Was to Become Columbia 

Data from the United States Census, 1800 







Fishing Creek 


Briar Creek 






Hemlock and Montour* 


total estimate of population for the area to be Columbia County 5,000 

In 1800, our area was part of Northumberland County. The six town- 
ships listed above plus the areas of the two townships to be set up later. 
Hemlock and Montour, represent approximately, but only approxi- 
mately, the area that was later to be Columbia County. Furthermore, the 
number of townships has grown from the initial six, to twenty-four and 
the boundaries of these townships have been so altered that they have 
little relationship in size to the present townships. The names suggest, 
however, general regions and, therefore, are useful. 

To summarize the population distribution in the first decade of the 
Nineteenth Century: The Quakers who at first had predominated in Cat- 
awissa and the surrounding region, especially at the south, had largely 
left, or were soon to do so. Only a few families remained. Here they had 
been replaced by Germans, mostly from Berks County, but many also 
direct from the fatherland. The Welsh were also represented in the Locust 
Township area. Conyngham Township, at the extreme south, received 
practically no settlers until the middle of the century. In the larger section 
of the county, north of the North Branch of the Susquehanna River, 
many Germans were to be found, especially in what were to be Hemlock 
and Montour Townships. Protestants, however, drawn largely from 
New Jersey, were the sources of most of the settlers of this region. The 
attempts of Connecticut to control and colonize the Wyoming Valley 
brought many settlers to the Luzerne townships on the east, some of 
whom were to settle along our northeastern borders.** 

*Hemlock and Montour Townships were part of Mahoning Township, which was 
later to become part of Montour County. We have estimated the 1800 population of 
these two areas that were to be set up as Columbia County townships at a later time. 
They are estimated at numbers that will give our total in round numbers. 
**A part of Berwick laid out by Evan Owen, was found to be in Salem Township. 
This accounts for the fact that part of the built-up section of Berwick, from Front 
Street north is in Salem Township of Luzerne County. 


From Indian Trails to Improved Roads 

Any marked expansion of settlements and their supplies could not 
come until roads made regular wagon traffic possible. These came quite 

Even before the Revolution, the Great Shamokin Path up the West 
Branch had become a good wagon road. And up the North Branch, the 
Great Warriors' Path through our region had been similarly improved as 
shown by this record of July, 1775: "Two wagons, with Goods, Cattle, 
Women, Tools & C, went through Town [Northumberland] to Day 
from East-Jersey, on their Way to Fishing Creek [probably meaning Fish- 
ing Creek region] up this River, where they are to settle; rapid, most 
rapid is the growth of this Country. "^^ 

The Centre Turnpike 

In 1770, the Centre Turnpike from Pottsville to Fort Augusta was 
opened. Its route passed through Ashland, Mt. Carmel, and Bear Gap. 
The latter place gave access to the Roaring Creek Valley and a southern 
entrance to Catawissa and other parts of our region. Pennsylvania 
Routes 487 and 54 currently follow this general route. ^^ 

The Lehigh- Nescopeck Highway 

Strong interest arose for a road from the valley of the Lehigh River to 
the Nescopeck region. Such a desire was expressed by the up-river 
sections, Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas. The Berwick-Nescopeck 
area also felt keenly the need of such a road to attract settlers and pro- 
mote the commerce of those already there. The only route for the neces- 
sary supplies was from Philadelphia to Middletown, on the lower Sus- 
quehanna, by land, and thence by boats up the river to Berwick or 
Wyoming. Not only was it roundabout but it incurred the laborious and 
time consuming labor of poling the boats against the current. 

Evan Owen, the proprietor of Berwick, was actively promoting the 
sale of lands to persons living in the Philadelphia region. He was living in 
the Philadelphia region at that time for this purpose, and was also close 
to the seat of government, where he was in a position to make his influ- 
ence felt with the Executive Council.* It was also known that Owen was 
a trained surveyor. It was further noted that he was an intelligent man 
and one in whom the public reposed great confidence. He also was 
known to own a tract of land at the mouth of the Nescopeck, but with 
"no intermediate" interest. A strong recommendation was made for a 
direct road to Nescopeck and that Evan Owen be placed in charge. 

*At that time the executive power of Pennsylvania was exercised by this Executive 


Quoting further from the recommer\dation; "He therefore in pursuing his 
own interest will seek the shortest & best route; and is so solicitous to 
have the work done that he has consented to undertake the trust; and as 
the public grant will probably be insufficient for opening a good road he 
will perform duty of Commissioner and Surveyor gratis"^^ exclusive of 
expenses. Owen was given the commission. He was able to report its 
completion in 1790. 

After this improvement, the immigration to and through this Nesco- 
peck "gateway" increased. Much of the immigration for the northern and 
eastern part of the county came by this route. ^^ 

Catawissa - Mifflinville - Nescopeck 

It has already been noted that there was a route along the south side 
of the river, starting at Catawissa and leading to Mifflin and Nescopeck. 
It had early been used by settlers as noted formerly. The completion of 
the Nescopeck-Lehigh road led from Hughesburg (Catawissa) to Mifflins- 
burg (Mifflinville) and thence to Nescopeck and provided that it would 
be fifty feet wide. The latter provision indicates that the court considered 
it of especial important. ^^ 

The Reading Road 

One of the most valuable improvements made by the Quakers of the 
Roaring Creek Valley was the opening of a road to the southeast. In 
May, 1789, seventeen residents petitioned the court to order the opening 
of a road which was probably to be the first surveyed road in the valley. 
Beginning in Mill Street, Catawissa, it followed local township roads 
past the former Tank School, and skirted the slopes of the Catawissa 
Mountain. Continuing along the southern spur, practically identically 
with modern Pennsylvania Legislative Route 19005, it skirted Millgrove, 
crossed Little Mountain to Ashland, and thence it linked up with an exist- 
ing road through the Schuylkill River Valley to Reading and Phila- 
delphia. It was almost immediately named the "Reading Road." It was 
more than a road to those cities. At Philadelphia it connected with the 
boats bringing settlers, mostly German, but some English, almost direct- 
ly from Europe to the Roaring Creek Valley. "Fortunate indeed, was 
Roaring Creek Valley in having a road leading directly to Reading and 
Philadelphia at such an early date."^-^ 

Access Roads at the Northwest 

At the northwestern section of the future county of Columbia, the 
first contacts were by means of routes from the West Branch. John Eves 
in 1769 was guided from the region of modern Milton eastward to a long 
established east and west trail. By this, he was able to reach his desti- 
nation at modern Millville through the valley of the Chillisquaque Creek, 


and then across the divide into the Little Fishing Creek Valley. 

Eves, on one of his first journeys, cut a road from the mouth of the 
Chillisquaque Creek. The reference is not clear as to whether the road 
was cut for the whole distance or merely far enough to give access to the 
Indian trail. Eves' later journeys, and those of his immediate followers, 
used this approach. This trail continued at the east. After skirting the 
Mount Pleasant Hills on the south and going through the Green Creek 
valley, it reached the Knob Mountain vicinity. It then divided toward the 
east into two forks. 

One fork of this route at the north continued along the northern 
slopes of Huntington Mountain to give eventual contact with the Wyom- 
ing Valley at Shickshinny. The other fork continued along the southern 
slopes of Lee Mountain to give access to the river at Berwick-Nescopeck. 
Many of the later settlers in the Jerseytown area, including the Billhime- 
Welliver settlers when they returned in 1780, used this Nescopeck route. 
This route has been almost exactly followed by the branch of the Penn 
Central Railroad between the West Branch and Berwick. 

There was no direct north and south road to the river in the 
Bloomsburg vicinity until 1798, when a road south across the Mount 
Pleasant Hills was provided. At times of high water, both Green and 
Little Fishing Creeks had provided means of floating lumber to the down- 
river mills at Harrisburg and Marietta. 

At a later date, Jerseytown was to become crossroads of two roads; 
one from Bloomsburg to Muncy, and the other from Berwick to 
Milton. 24 

Pioneer Life 

The first pioneers in loneliness and danger, carved out their home- 
steads from the wild frontier and laid the first foundations for their better 
homes, the cleared fields, and the thriving communities that were to 
develop later. In pioneer life, almost all the needs for living were met by 
the pioneers themselves from resources immediately available or near at 
hand. The abundant game and fish provided food; the first crude struc- 
tures gave shelter, but neither could be depended on to fill the people's 
needs for extended periods or during the bitter cold of the winters, which 
must be prepared for. 

Planning the Journey to the Frontier 

It will be helpful to construct an imaginative story of a pioneer group 
who planned in 1788 to go to the distant frontier valley near the Susque- 
hanna River, in what was then the far west. We will take typical inci- 
dents and descriptions, all of which actually happened or applied at one 
time or another, and put them together as they might have been experi- 
enced by a migrating group. 


Caspar and Hannah were a young couple with two boys and an in- 
fant. They had learned from a neighbor, whose son had migrated pre- 
viously, about the cheapness of the land on the frontier. Caspar had been 
a farm worker and he thought, as many others did, that if he could get 
land on the frontier he could, with hard work, establish himself and have 
a better life. Hannah agreed with him. Hannah and he were both raised 
on farms where work was tough in those days and did not shrink from 
the anticipation of hard work on their own land. 

Need of Money 

They would need money. The 100 acres of land cost $150.^ They 
would also have to buy equipment, pack horses - probably three, oxen 
perhaps, a plowshare, some garden tools or their metal parts, and cer- 
tainly an ax and a gun. Hannah's parents gave her a heifer. Other hve- 
stock might have had to be omitted in expectation of securing it later. 
Much of this would, of course, cost money, especially the land. 

Expenses might be incurred on the trip, for instance, being ferried 
across a stream. Caspar had saved up some money and his father prom- 
ised to lend him some more. 

The Group Made a Cavalcade 

They would start as early in the spring as possible so that before the 
cold bitter weather of the following winter would come, they would have 
a house constructed, and food laid in so that they could survive. When 
the group started, it made a cavalcade with Caspar in front, holding an 
ax and rifle in one hand and the leading strap of the first pack horse in the 
other hand. 

Although their baggage had been reduced to the necessities, the little 
caravan was loaded. The first horse carried two large hampers, one on 
either side suspended from its back, each packed with bedding. Out of 
the top of one peeked the head of the infant. Following the first horse 
were two others, each attached to the one in front by a leading strap. On 
the second horse was packed a store of provisions, plough irons, and 
agricultural tools. The third horse had another pack; it carried table fur- 
niture and cooking utensils with other things not visible. Hannah fol- 
lowed at the rear carrying a loaf of bread in one hand, and the rim of a 
spinning wheel in the other. The two boys each had a small bundle and 
the older one was leading a cow, with the younger one helping. 

The Journey 

At first, they traveled through the settled countryside. The way be- 
came more difficult as they advanced farther into the wilds. Finally, they 
had to follow Indian trails, threading the deep forest, fording streams, 
and climbing the difficult mountains. Here is where the ax would be 


needed as they came across broken branches of trees, or even whole trees 
fallen across the paths. The party might also come across chances to kill 
wild game where the gun would be highly useful. They camped along the 
way, finding at times a used shelter or abandoned cabin — it might have 
been an Indian's, a squatter's, or a settler's. They might just bed down in 
the open on hemlock boughs after having cared for the forage for their 

Other migrating groups were made up differently; some with 
skimpier supplies and equipment, others with more of both. Some forms 
of livestock could be driven along with the group. Older children would 
be used to help. When roads were widened sufficiently to accommodate 
wagons, the equipment could become extensive. Cows and oxen might 
be made to carry a share of the burdens as well as pulling the wagons. 
Recall the two wagons with goods, cattle, women, tools and other 
baggage at Northumberland in 1775, as previously noted. ^^ 

As an actual example, we tell about Daniel McHenry who purchased 
a tract of land above modem Stillwater. He visited his purchase in 1783, 
carrying with him a gun, ax, hoe, and provisions to last six weeks. The 
gun was always useful for shooting game along the way for food, as well 
as affording protection. Arrived at his holding, he cleared a plot of land 
and planted hills of Indian com. McHenry removed his family from their 
temporary home in Milton to their new home the following year. Here in 
1785 was born John McHenry, the first white child born north of Knob 
Mountain. From this account it appears clearly that the pioneer needed 
to be hunter, lumberman, and farmer. ^'^ 

Building the Settler's Cabin 

The first comers to a region were under the necessity of building their 
homes in the isolation of the wilds. Some minimum shelter, an over- 
hanging ledge, a lean-to against a bank, might serve for a time, but a 
cabin was required for survival through the cold winter to be expected. 

Caspar and Hannah were fortunate enough to come to an area where 
there were neighbors to welcome them. They were assured of aid in con- 
structing their log cabin. It would be in the form of a house raising, or a 
neighborhood "bee," also called a "frolic." 

In preparation, logs would have been cut to lengths suitable for a 
cabin sixteen or more feet square. It was seldom very much larger, be- 
cause the larger the cabin, the heavier and longer the logs would need to 
be. On the day of the "bee," all the families in the community would 
gather. The men would organize into teams with friendly rivalry. The 
logs, if not already properly notched, would be notched so as to fit in 
place. Provision for sawing the door opening and window openings 
would be made and the chimney planned. A stone chimney might have 
been built at that time, but usually only stone for a fireplace would be 


laid, with logs laid in place to make the flue for a chimney. This flue 
would be plastered with a lining of clay two or three inches thick. With a 
fire lit, this clay would bake as hard as brick, thus a fireplace and chim- 
ney were provided. Meanwhile, the women with equally jolly teamwork, 
would be providing the hearty dinner for all. And we can imagine the 
older children honored to be able to help. The younger ones might be 
helping to some extent, and probably getting in the way with their play 
to some extent.^ 

The Settler's Cabin Description 

When the day was over, the couple had an enclosed shelter. It would 
have a dirt floor which would soon be tramped hard. Glass for the 
window openings would come later as would a deer skin to hang at the 
door opening. These and other facilities could be added through the sum- 
mer along with other work. A bed would be fashioned out of saplings 
laid in one corner of the floor, three corners of the bed supported by the 
walls and the fourth by a wooden prop. When additional saplings for bed 
slats were placed and the whole covered with evergreen boughs, and 
maybe a tick filled with dried leaves, a welcome for bone-tired workers 
was provided. A loft under the eaves would be where younger members 
might climb a ladder to get their rest on a bed made up on the loft floor. 
Until these make-shift beds were installed, persons would take their rest 
on the floor. It might have been a long time before the dirt floor was im- 
proved in some cases. When there were guests, the sleeping conditions 
might be very crowded. One traveler records twenty odd people with 
cats and dogs sleeping in a space twenty feet square. ^^ 

The first cottage of the Johns in the Catawissa Creek region was a 
story and a half in size, had no door, and was entered by means of a lad- 
der through an entrance in the roof. The record further says, "It seems 
almost incredible, but a family of ten children was brought up in this 
house.... "-^^ For the general run of these cabins, tables and shelves would 
be attached later to the walls. Three legged stools would be made. Logs 
flattened on one side and laid on the dirt so as to provide a reasonably 
level and smooth floor would be also added later. It would be a 
puncheon floor. •'^ 

The Log House 

Later a house of logs, as distinguished from a log cabin, might be 
built. It was constructed of squared logs carefully dovetailed at each 
corner. It was larger inside, usually, with two rooms and a stairway to 
the attic as an extra sleeping room instead of a loft. The floors were of 
puncheons, well laid. The fireplace was a permanent stone structure. A 
log house was usually the second house built and might be lived in for 
years. Two Quakers Meeting Houses, one at Catawissa and the other at 


Newlin, were built in the late 1790's. They are still standing and could be 
made livable now.-^^ 

In 1788 at Rupert, Leonard Rupert built on his land an improved log 
house that was considered a marvel of frontier architecture. It comprised 
three rooms instead of a single apartment, and was occupied for thirty 
years. It was then used as a farm building, with a portion surviving to the 
present, 1975.33 

Food from the Wilds 

From random samplings of available evidence, we learn of the abun- 
dance of game in the early days. There were bears and wolves in large 
numbers. Deer were more plentiful than sheep at a later time. These 
records are from various regions of our County. 34 

Early travelers as well as the pioneer settlers planned on these re- 
sources for food. Deer were plentiful and became a staple of diet. Veni- 
son besides being eaten while fresh, was "jerked," that is, its meat was 
dried over a slow fire and thus preserved. This practice was especially 
useful for long journeys. 


Bears were especially dangerous. They often killed the pioneer's pigs 
for their own food. It frequently happened that the bear would return to 
a partially eaten carcass for another meal. The pioneers taking advan- 
tage of this trait set a trap near this former kill. The bear, when trapped, 
struggled to free itself until weakened, then the pioneer was able to sub- 
stitute bear meat for the pork he had lost. Bears were plentiful and were 
hunted. Bear meat was about as common on the frontier as was pork at a 
later day. At Berwick every bear killed was taken before Justice of the 
Peace Owen to be divided among the families. 35 Bears might weigh from 
300 to 400 pounds. Besides their food value, bear skin robes were 
especially valued. A large amount of oil was rendered from the fat which 
was useful in cooking and for lighting the cabins. 36 


Turkeys were widely distributed throughout our area and were easily 
killed. They were hunted ruthlessly and at one time they were in danger 
of extinction. A grown bird might weigh thirty to forty pounds. 37 

Wild Pigeons 

The most important meat producing bird in the early days, however, 
was the passenger pigeon. 

Wild pigeons came at certain seasons of the year, especially nesting 
time, in flocks so large that we of the later day can scarcely believe this to 
have been possible. An eye-witness from the nearby Wilkes-Barre region 


had this record: "The whole heavens were dark with them, the cloud on 
wing continuing to pass for over an hour or more and cloud succeeding 

cloud. There were not millions but myriads Towns [nestsl were built 

by them for five or six miles in length along the Meshoppen — every 
branch or bough of every tree holding a rude nest." In a Berwick news- 
paper item in 1840, we can read: "We have never seen such a quantity of 
pigeons as were flying about our place. The greater portion of our towns- 
men were engaged in pursuit of them, none returned without their hands 
full. Mr. F. Nicely succeeding in shooting 80. He fired twice into one 
flock and killed 37. Beat that you who can." Often the masses were so 
thick on the branches that they could be clubbed to death. For the 
pioneer such plentiful and easily secured food was a welcome addition to 
their diet and a resource for barter in a nearby town. At a later time, the 
extermination of the passenger pigeon was completed by market hunters 
slaughtering them and sending them salted to the cities by the ton.^^ 

Shad and Other Fish 

In the earlier days, great masses of shad swam up the Susquehanna, 
and other north-east coast rivers also. They sought the small headwaters 
to spawn. From the very first, the pioneers learned from the Indians to 
net shad. Early in the spring, it has been told that watchers reported the 
coming of the shad in great masses like a sparkling wave crest advancing 
up the river. 

At many places, they relieved the pioneers from the fear of 
starvation. Soon, nets were placed and the shad were obtained in quan- 
tities almost unbelievable in later times. Fisheries were established as 
early as 1780, and were an important resource for fifty years. The season 
began about the latter part of March and continued until June. Two hauls 
per day was the rule, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The 
flatboats used were about twenty-feet long and eighteen inches wide, 
provided with two stout oars near the bow. Two men were required at 
each oar, another paid out the net, 600 to 1,000 feet in length, with two 
others staying on shore to adjust the other end of the net. At some fish- 
eries, two nets were used. Nine thousand fish were reported in one haul. 
The price of shad in 1800 was six dollars per hundred, but dropped rap- 
idly when the market became glutted. At such times the fish by the 
wagon load might be spread on fields for fertilizer. This was the case one 
time at the Boone Fishery near Bloomsburg. Beginning with Catawissa 
fisheries, up stream, in order, were the Boone's, Kinney's, Hendershott's, 
Kuder's, Whitney's, Creveling's, Miller's, with others at Berwick and 
farther up stream. People came from all points to buy shad. For barter 
exchange they brought corn, meat, peach cider, whiskey, and 



Shad might also be caught with hook and line. No bait was needed. It 
was sufficient to throw in one's line with a large, three-pronged, barbed 
hook. One would pull in a shad almost every time. 

Streams generally were also teaming with other fish: catfish, 
sturgeon, bass, perch. -^^ 

Honey Bees 

Bees were not native to America. They were brought by the colonists. 
They soon escaped from the hives and have spread throughout the 
country. Wild bees were to be found in hollow trees. A hollow tree 
would be chopped down and made to yield fifty to seventy-five pounds 
of honey, sometimes more. The farmer's hive might yield forty pounds. 
When the honey was stored in tubs, it would granulate at the bottom and 
provide sweetening for all purposes.^ 

Maple Syrup and Maple Sugar 

Very early, the settlers learned from the Indians how to make maple 
syrup and maple sugar. Farmers might tap from 200 to 300 trees yearly, 
from which they would make 500 to 1,000 pounds a year. 

These two products were the main forms of sweetening in the earlier 
years. These figures apply to settlers after they had become well settled. 
Maple sugar and honey provided products for sale or barter. Note that 
Abram Miller at Limeridge as early as 1795 was selling fifteen barrels of 
maple sugar per year at fifteen pence per pound. ^^ 

Wild Animals 

The early settlers remarked on the howls of wolves and the screams of 
panthers. They were both destructive to the family's livestock. This is 
also true of the wildcats and foxes, although less so. The pioneers were 
compelled to construct high enclosures, around which fires were kept 
burning all night as protection for their herds. 

Panthers were afraid of dogs, but could overpower a hog or a calf and 
carry it off without a struggle. An early settler in Sugarloaf Township 
lost a cow to a panther. On finding the partially eaten carcass, a trap was 
set and the animal caught. This depredation had taken place in Luzerne 
County. The wounded animal was dragged on a makeshift yoke a mile 
and half until the party reached Columbia County. Then the animal was 
killed. By this expedient the owner was able to say it was killed in 
Columbia County and secure the bounty, $10, for the kill. 

Wolves or panthers would seldom attack humans, but this was not 
universally true. There are traditions of attacks on men, women, and 

*Metheglin, a fermented drink made from honey and water. 


children. They made the night hideous with their howls and screeches, 
and swarmed around the settlements during winter when hunger drove 
them out of the mountains. At butchering time they prowled around the 
houses and barns, attracted by the scent of blood. At such times it was 
not safe to leave the house at night. '^ 

Destruction of Wild Game and Fish 

Systems of bounties and intensive hunting have brought about the ex- 
tinction of wolves and panthers. Wildcats are practically exterminated. 
Foxes still roam the woods. Rattle snakes, a serious hazard for early set- 
tlers, are also still with us.'^^ 

Various products such as leather and salt meat became articles of 
commerce. Market hunters came in to the regions and their operations 
added to articles of commerce, as well as hastened the eventual extinction 
or severe reduction of valuable species. Wasteful and over-fishing 
brought severe reductions in all species. 

The early years of the pioneers were the hardest. This was especially 
true of the first year. The new settlers worked under the fear of famine. 
Often it was barely avoided. 

Such was the case of the Peter Yohes at Mifflin, who, before their first 
crop had matured, were "reduced to the last extremity for food...." 
Yohes journeyed by canoe to Wilkes-Barre to get a bag of com for the 
family's provisions.'^ 

Levy Aikman gathered his first harvest at Briar Creek and put it in 
charge of his son in a canoe, in order to take it to a mill in Sunbury and 
have it ground into flour. Young Aikman made the journey, a crust of 
bread his only food. Reaching the river landing nearest his home at night- 
fall, he stopped at the Webbs, hoping to get a meal. "Mrs. Webb would 
have gladly given him supper, but there was no food in their home. He 
shared the contents of his sack with several others before he reached 
home the next day."**^ One wonders what there was left for the Aikmans. 

A settler named Henry with his wife planted an acre of potatoes 
about 1780, where modern Lightstreet was to grow. They were com- 
pelled to dig these potatoes out of the ground for food, and when they 
were exhausted, they depended on wild potatoes, possibly artichokes, 
for food. 46 

The Fowler family, newly arrived at Briar Creek, found two of three 
families so destitute that they shared their supplies of grain. Eventually 
all were so dose to starvation that they survived only be depending on 
wild game and dried apples. ^7 

Increase of Farm Products 

As the pioneers enlarged their clearings from year to year, their har- 
vest gradually increased in size and the danger of famine declined. In 


pioneer times many people adopted the Indian method of grinding their 
grain. This was to place small amounts in a hollowed-out, saucer-like 
rock, and then pound it and grind it with another stone held in the hand, 
usually the wife's hand. This method, by mortar and pestle, was slow 
and produced a coarse product. Grist mills were early in demand and 
grew up first in Wilkes-Barre and Sunbury. 

Pioneer tools were 
back-breaking toil. 
Yale University Press 

heavy, crude, and required long hours of 

Journeys to Distant Mills 

In 1788 at Knob Mountain, Abram Kline had been able to accum- 
mulate sufficient grain for a trip to Sunbury. A pack train of several 
horses was used to carry the grain to the river. Here it was transferred to 
river transport, either a flatboat or raft. The record does not specify, but 
we must infer the return trip by poling the twenty miles or so up current 
and then the completion of the trip by pack horse. '*^ Andrew Creveling, 
at Espy, regularly loaded fifteen bushels of grain on a canoe for a trip to a 
Sunbury mill. It was placed in charge of his sons, how many is not indi- 
cated, who prop>€lled the canoe by poles to Sunbury and return. Canoe, 
unless otherwise stated, in our area means dugout canoe. They might be 
of varying size.'*'' The canoe of the Crevelings carried only fifteen 
bushels. This was almost as much as a two-horse wagon is recorded as 
having hauled over the rough roads of the time.^ Some canoes were 
much larger. Ellis Hughes in 1770 at Catawissa was commissioned to 
build one out of a pine log, to be forty feet long, three and a half feet 
wide and eighteen inches deep.^^ Some dugout canoes were large enough 
to carry 100 to 150 bushels. These are figures from the Schuylkill and 
Delaware rivers. Whether ones that large were ever used on the Susque- 
hanna, the author is unable to state. ^^ 



Jc^-Uie^ c. IJSO 


¥arm utensils. The hay drag [rake], wooden fork; mowing scythe, and 
reaping hook [sickle]. The latter was used in a field where the stumps 
were too close for mowing with a scythe. 

Local Mills Were Built 

Trips with harvested grain to Wilkes-Barre or Sunbury were labori- 
ous, time-consuming and dangerous. This need led to the construction of 
mills in our region. One of the first mills was built at Catawissa by some 
Quakers as early as 1774. It had an undershot water wheel for power and 
was frequently out of repair and was given up after a few years. In 1789 
Jonathan Shoemaker constructed a larger mill at about the site of the 
later paper mill. It at once received patronage from many miles around. 
In 1801 Christian Brobst erected another larger mill a short distance 
above the Shoemaker. These mills made Catawissa an early leader of in- 
dustry in the County. 

In the fifteen or twenty years after the Revolution, mills were widely 
built throughout the county. In the Roaring Creek Valley were Cleaver 
Mill at the mouth of Roaring Creek (1789); the Behm Mill on Deer Lick 
Run at Newlin (1801); Charles Hughes' Mill on the later site of Stony 
Brook Park; the Slabtown Mill (1789); the Nathan Lee Mill, later called 
the Snyder Mill (1798). The first mills on Fishing Creek were on its upper 


tributaries. It is inferred that lower Fishing Creek, the largest creek in the 
county, incurred engineering problems more difficult than on the smaller 
streams. These early mills included: the Pepper Mill, the owner named 
Pepper, on Hemlock Creek above Buckhom (1802); the Swartout Mill on 
the main creek, a short distance below Coles Creek; the Exekial Cole Mill 
on Coles Creek (1795), stated to be the first mill in northern Columbia 
County; a mill given the name of a later owner, Norton Cole, on West 
Creek (1800). John Eves constructed his mill on Little Fishing Creek 
shortly after 1778. The Brown Mill on Ten Mile Run was in Mifflin 
Township (1778). The Rittenhouse Mill was built on the forks of Briar 
Creek (1800). 

Usually the original practice of the mills was to take the farmer's grain 
and change it to flour, with the coarser products sifted out to make feed 
for livestock. This was done by making the grain pass between two hori- 
zontal millstones, the one revolving on top of the other, with the grain 
entering at the center and coming out as the finished product at the outer 

The need for converting tree trunks to beams and planks and boards 
brought about the addition of machinery for sawing. The machinery 
added to the grist mill was a thick saw which was made to move in a 
cumbrous up-and-down way, which reduced the logs as they were 
pushed through to the necessary timber forms. Slow? Yes. But faster than 
two men could reduce a log to dimension lumber, where one man stood 
on a log placed over a pit and pulled on one end of the saw, while his 
team-mate stood in the pit and pulled on the other end of the saw. On 
Spruce Run, at an early date, David Masters built the only water 
powered mill in Madison Township. It was at first a sawmill and later 
converted to other operations. ^-^ 

According to tradition, a mill was operated on Cabin Run, grinding 
livestock feed and plaster. It is of frequent mention that other mills also 
ground plaster. At about this time, it had been discovered that dust from 
gypsum rock, the main ingredient of plaster, was also a fertilizer that 
seemed to produce almost magic effects for crops, especially clover. It 
soon came into great demand. Plaster rock was imported from New York 
and many mills throughout the country made the "grinding of plaster" 
one of their main activities.^ 

Cold winters were an especial hazard for mills run by water power. 
Nathan Lee's Mill, above Slabtown, froze up one winter. Thinking to 
thaw out the ice-bound water wheel, he burned some dry straw next to 
the wheel. The fire speedily spread and destroyed his mill and the stock 
of grain stored in it. 

Thomas Linville's mill, farther down Roaring Creek from Nathan 
Lee's Mill, early went into the business of sawing logs for planks. The 
outside slabs were used to build many of the houses in the neighborhood. 


Merchants and Merchandising 

In 1795 Abram Miller at Lime Ridge was getting merchandise from 
Philadelphia. It was transported to Catawissa by cart, thence to his store. 
The charge was a dollar and a quarter per mile.^^ 

The first store in Jerseytown was established by John Funston. 
Funston and his neighbors customarily joined in sending their wheat and 
other products annually to Reading and there obtained a supply of prod- 
ucts for the ensuing season. The son, Thomas, in charge one season, 
bought six wool hats and found that they had a ready market on return. 
This led the father to start supplying the neighbors with goods. In other 
words, he started a store. In a similar way, it can be inferred that others 
started merchandising. 

The early mills at Catawissa, a ferry, and the existence of boat traffic 
on the North and West branches from Catawissa, led to early stores in 
that community. Apparently the first one between Sunbury and 
Wyoming, exact date unknown, was established by Isaiah Hughes. He 
was followed by Joseph Heister. A third merchant, John Clark, at an 
early date, was journeying to Philadelphia on horseback to make his 
annual purchase of goods, when the bridle of the horse was seized in 
darkness by a would-be robber. Clark pulled out his spectacle case which 
snapped, alarming the horse which reared out of the robber's grasp and 
carried Clark to safety. 

Berwick's first store was that of John Jones in 1800. Philip Mehrling 
sometime after, opened the first store in Bloomsburg.^ 

Traffic and Commerce 

In order to secure the necessary means to pay for the manufactured or 
other goods from the cities, the pioneers needed to send products from 
the frontier for exchange. Many of these products have been noted in 
telling about pioneer life: salt meat from domestic or wild animals, salted 
shad, honey, and maple sugar. Lumber in rafts or in the form of arks or 
durham boats was to be part of our commerce at a later date, whether it 
had started before 1800 is not clear from the records. Tanned leather, 
furs, dried fruit, and some lumber products - especially for making 
barrels - were also articles of commerce. And soon loads or cargoes of 
grain made up increasingly large amounts for city markets.^'' 

Transportation was by pack train to some extent. Wagons, however, 
were coming to be used to a greater extent as improved roads extended 
farther into the frontier. For example, Squire Hutchison drove a wagon 
load of wheat to Easton in 1810. ^^ 

A record of 1804 shows that there were 664 arks, rafts, and boats 
which went down the river, loaded with an estimated 100,000 bushels of 
wheat and other produce. Some additional tonnage may be inferred from 
our region, although it was probably not as far advanced as the Wyom- 


ing region. 5^ Rafts were made up of lumber which itself would be sold 
with their cargoes. Arks were great cumbersome boats, some of which 
were later to be made at Bloomsburg by William McKelvy and John 
Barton. They were seventy feet long, although this was not necessarily a 
standard length. An ark had a capacity of possibly fifty tons. Cumber- 
some, navigated only downstream - it was also hazardous - one in three 
being lost on the rocks or other perils of navigation.^ In its construction, 
some 10,000 board feet of lumber was required. 

Durham boats were first developed along the Delaware River and 
were so useful that they spread to other Pennsylvania river systems. 
They were shipped like over size dugout canoes, but had wide running 
boards attached on the outsides. Here men propelled a boat by pushing 
and setting poles as they walked from bow to stem and then in contin- 
uous cycle starting again at the bow. When the current was favorable, 
the boats floated with it. Sails were used when the wind was favorable. 
These boats were 60 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 2 feet deep, and flat bot- 
tomed. Loaded with 15 tons, they drew 20 inches of water. ^^ 

Religious Developments Among the Germans 

The Quaker settlements at Catawissa, Roaring Creek, Millville, Ber- 
wick, and Bloomsburg have been told about in the previous chapter. The 
German settlers who followed were chiefly either Lutherans or Re- 
formeds. The latter were often known as German Presbyterians, but 
better described as followers of the religious leader, Zwingli. Many of 
these groups brought with them, catechisms, hymn books, manuals of 
devotion, with which they could keep their religion alive, often in neigh- 
borhood gatherings. The "ground was thus prepared" for the work of 
missionaries and itinerant preachers. 

A Lutheran church was established as early as 1795 at Catawissa. 
Others established were: Briar Creek in 1805, Locust in 1808, Mifflin and 
Hemlock in 1810, and Orange in 1812. In many cases, if not all, the 
Lutherans and Reformeds, while both were weak in numbers, established 
union churches. They alternated in using the same church building, oc- 
casionally one pastor would alternate in faithfully using his own church's 
ritual one Sunday, and that of the other congregation on the other Sun- 
day, with both groups amicably uniting in bearing the expenses and at- 
tending whichever service was being observed on a given Sunday. This 
was a widespread practice in Pennsylvania. As an example the more de- 
tailed history of the Bloomsburg groups is interesting. 

Before 1800, the Lutherans, Reformeds, and Episcopalians had some 
form of agreement to use a church building constructed by the Episco- 
palians. This agreement came to an end when the Reformeds on one 
occasion were locked out, the circumstances not fully known. For some 
time, the Reformeds attempted services two miles distant near the con- 


fluence of Little Fishing Creek with the main stream. The Lutherans were, 
for some reason, also without a place of worship. The two congregations 
joined in acquiring the property now occupied by the Bloomsburg 
Middle School, on which they constructed a log church and provided for 
a common burying ground. This amicable agreement was to continue for 
fifty years. ^2 

Protestant Episcopal Churches 

St. Paul's Parish of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Bloomsburg is 
its oldest religious organization. Under the leadership of the Rev. Caleb 
Hopkins, a crude log building was constructed on the west side of the 
road leading from the house of Esquire Elisha Barton, to Berwick. By this 
description the location must have been on modem East Street, in what 
was informally called Hopkinsville. 

This church had no fireplace, but was heated by means of a charcoal 
fire in a rude grating placed in front of the chancel, the rector's face fre- 
quently obscured by smoke. One wonders about the carbon-monoxide. 
It was during this first period that the Episcopal Church welcomed gen- 
erally other religious faiths also. Thus following the pattern of union 
churches. ^-^ 

As noted above, this was discontinued for reasons not entirely clear. 
This church organization has continued in Bloomsburg until the present. 

There seems to have been a rudimentary organization of the Berwick- 
Episcopalians as early as 1804, but no record of services until 1870. At an 
early date, exactly when is not known, there was an Episcopal congre- 
gation at Jerseytown. The group that settled under the leadership of Mr. 
Godhard, an Episcopalian, was to establish St. Gabriel's Protestant 
Episcopal Church in the far northern reaches of the county in 1812. This 
church group has been maintained to the present, with the assistance of 
its neighboring churches in Bloomsburg and Berwick. 

Education - The First Schools 

The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1790 provided for the establish- 
ment of schools. The laws of 1802 and 1804 provided for the opening of 
schools. For the distant frontiers along the Susquehanna, however, there 
are no records of school openings in response to this legislation. 

The Quakers were probably the first to open schools. In 1798 in 
Greenwood, probably meaning Millville, Elizabeth Eves conducted a 
school in a room partitioned off for school purposes from their regular 
Meeting House. The children of the vicinity were accommodated. In the 
eastern end of this township the first school was situated on the farm of 
Joseph Gerard.^ 

In Locust Township the first school was established by Quakers soon 
after their coming near the site of their later Meeting House built in 1796, 


It was continued for a dozen years or more. One of its first teachers was 
William Hughes, presumably the William Hughes who had earlier laid 
out Catawissa.^ 

Just how the schools were supported, whether by the Quaker organi- 
zation or by subscription, is not clear. 

Subscription Schools 

Schools were sometimes opened on the initiative of persons more or 
less qualified. More frequently, it seems, concerned parents, secured a 
minister, or another person with some degree of education to open a 
school. The parents joined in paying some kind of stipend, usually sup>- 
plemented by lodging and boarding at parents' homes, on a schedule 
called "boarding around." Children of needy parents may have been ac- 
cepted, although the records are silent on this matter. Many of the 
schools were held in private homes. Buildings were provided later. 

School Houses 

When buildings came to be built, the furnishings of these "temples of 
knowledge," were meager. The seats were puncheons with peg legs. The 
heat in winter time might be from a large opened-mouth fireplace. The 
doorway was made especially wide to allow the pupils, at noontime, to 
roll in log replenishments for the fire. Pot-bellied stoves came later. The 
pupils stood up at desks lining the walls under the small windows. A tin 
cup and bucket of water completed the furnishings.^ 

The Schools - Descriptions 

A record from early Berwick suggests what may have been the first 
educational equipment, typical of what was to be reached in times still 
early. The books were a speller, almost surely Webster's, and a Bible 
testament. Other books, less standardized, were probably representative 
of the books available. They included an arithmetic, and a reader, i. e., a 
book of selected readings to give good reading material, widen the 
students' horizons of information, and develop skill in reading. A geog- 
raphy, a grammer, and an atlas might have been added later. Books were 
usually passed down from older brothers or sisters, and became well 
worn in the process. ^'^ Under these circumstances, the teacher could an- 
ticipate that he would need to adapt to a wide variety of books used by 
various pupils, who themselves differed widely in age and degrees of 
educational achievement. 

The teachers usually were drawn from families of the neighborhood, 
and though sometimes of limited capacity, were sober, earnest and 
religious instructors.^ 


In addition to schools mentioned above, other subscription schools 
came into existence quite early. At Zaners, above Forks, Christopher 
Pealer started a school in 1790, but continued his trade as a weaver. 
Others were started in this neighborhood; Henry Hess at Stillwater, and 
Jonanathan Colley at Pealertown, both at an early date.^^ The first re- 
corded school at Berwick was taught by Isaac Hollo way about 1800.''^ 
Previous to that a traveler passing through Berwick in 1795, wrote in his 
diary, "We found near Owens a school for little girls, which by the small- 
ness of the building and the crowd which came out of it to see us re- 
sembled an ant hill."^ In 1805, a market house was erected in the center 
of what was later to be Market Street. It was supported on large wooden 
piers and the space beneath was given over to the storage of wagons and 
the "protection of horses." The main floor was used for town meetings, 
elections, and for church purposes. It was also used for many years as a 
school. The lighting was provided by small green glass "bull's-eyes" 
which gave very little light and almost completely prevented 

At Bloomsburg by 1802, George Vance taught a school on the site of 
the Episcopal Church. It was called the English School, apparently in dis- 
tinction from the German School, opened about the same time by 
Ludwig Eyer. Other subscription schools were opened soon after. David 
Jones, in 1794, opened a school in Mifflin in a building called a "hut."''^ 
Isaac Young opened a school in Benton village in 1799, and another was 
known to have existed in Jerseytown by the same date.^^ A school was 
opened on the road from Buckhorn to Frosty Valley by 1801, and in the 
same year a stone church was constructed by the Methodists near 
Fowlersville.'''^ It had a large room partitioned off for school purposes. 
The Mclntyre school in Locust township was taught by Martin Stuck 
also in the 1800's.''^ A school was located in Espy as early as 1805.^ 
There was also an early school in Sugarloaf on the site of St. Gabriel's 

Crafts and Occupations - Leather Workers 

Following the Revolution the great influx of settlers to our area 
brought many trades of specialized occupations as well as laborers. As 
one reads a list of these occupations, he can see the pioneer's life and en- 
vironment being improved in many ways. Further, the listing of callings 
is itself suggestive of the growth of towns as craftsmen took up their resi- 
dence in these beginning points of commercial exchange. 

The tanner was an early occupation in all communities, and also 
valued by the Indians. According to tradition, a settler named Hartman 
was tanning hides for the Indians in the vicinity of Catawissa before the 
Revolution. 7^ 


Daniel Snyder at Bloomsburg and another Snyder, John, no relation 
to Daniel, at Berwick, were early tanners and each built up reputation as 
fine businessmen and became leaders in their respective communities.'^^ 

Leather was necessary in the time of horse drawn vehicles. The har- 
ness was made from leather. It was also necessary for the saddles when 
almost all distant travel was by horseback. The rougher clothing for men 
and footwear for all, either shoes or moccasins, were made of leather. 
The traveling shoemaker called on the pioneer families to repair their 
shoes or make new ones, staying until all of a given family's needs were 
met. He might take his pay partly from food and lodging, and partly 
from hides accummulated from the family's livestock, and partly from 
pelts of wild animals. These he could barter for tanned leather. He might 
have received some money which, however, was scarce on the frontier. 

Leather was also the material from which many kinds of containers 
were made. The tanner and the leather workers could be sure that their 
services would be needed on the frontier. Tanners and leather workers 
were among the first craftsmen to settle on the frontier.^ 

Tools and containers on the frontier were largely 
made of wood. The making of containers: barrels, 
tubs, buckets, was the work of the cooper. Where 
they must be exposed to heat, as the pie crimper, 
the local blacksmith would have been the crafts- 
man to make such parts. 
Joan L. Romig, artist. 


Workers in Wood 

The bark of hemlock and oak trees was needed by the local tanners 
and also sent to the cities. ^^ The frontier age was an age of wood. Wood 
was plentiful, the needs were great. Saw mills have been mentioned 
earlier. Barrels and kegs were needed on the frontier to contain products 
sent to the city. They were needed in the cities to send products to the 
frontier. The curved wooden members to make the sides of these con- 
tainers, staves and other pieces to make the tops and bottoms, the 
headings, had to be made with great exactitude in order to be water- 
tight. The craftsman, who made these containers, was a cooper. The 
pieces to be fitted together and sent to the city in "knocked-down" form, 
provided an extensive product of commerce as well as for sale locally. 
Collectively they were called cooperage. The cooper also made tubs and 
buckets, also widely needed. Soon the resident, instead of sitting on a 
three-legged stool with seat made from the flat side of a slab, wanted a 
better chair. The chair maker was also an early craftsman. He also un- 
doubtedly made other furniture which would class him as a cabinet 
maker. ^2 

The pioneer himself might devise other articles or he might secure 
them from a craftsman, more or less specialized: hay and straw forks and 
rakes, wooden trenchers for plates,* wooden spoons and ladles, wooden 
churns. The pioneer probably brought with him the metal cutting part of 
a plow, the plowshare, but the heavy wooden parts were constructed at 
the destination. 

Wood Ashes 

Wood ashes were derived in large amounts from home cooking fires 
and those for heating. Large amounts were also derived in clearing the 
land by burning trees and brush. Wood ashes were the source of potash 
and pearl ash, valuable for making soap, and for that reason an article of 
commerce; light in weight and of considerable monetary value. ^^ 

Pioneer Home Life 

The pioneer homemaker had a cabin not much more than eighteen by 
twenty-four feet in which to make the family home. Some were smaller. 
The preparing of the food at the fireplace, the servicing of it, and the 
cleaning up afterwards were all done in this room. The sleeping of every- 
one, even the wayfaring guests was crowded into this space with little or 
no privacy in preparing for slumber. From pegs on the walls hung the 
garments, ones not in use, or those divested while owners slept. Hanging 
from the loft rafters near the fireplace were long drying poles. In appro- 

*A good trencherman was a hearty eater. 

An improved fireplace, as pictured above, would have come later than 
the first cabin. The mantle would have held some utensils with the 
owner's rifle hung above the powder horn and bullet bag nearby. Other 
articles pictured are: andirons, a metal crane with kettle hanging 
beneath, tongs, toaster, dough tray, bread shovel, poker. The small door 
high on the masonry opened to gain access to the oven, heated by hot 
coals, which were removed when oven heated and the dough for baking 
placed in it to be baked by the retained heat. Most of the metal utensils 
were produced by the local blacksmith. 
Joan L. Romig 

priate seasons could be found hanging from them, cut apples or other 
fruits for drying, strings of sausage, the product of cold weather butch- 
ering, rings of pumpkins, seed corn, bunches of medicinal herbs, and 
possibly other things just to get them out of the way. 

Places were found for articles of furniture, possibly crowded around. 
Other articles or implements which indicate the homemaker's work were 
also to be found. The cooking equipment has been mentioned pre- 
viously. The spinning wheel or wheels were placed so as to be used at 
opportune times. In the evenings, and possibly also on rainy days or the 
cold winter days, the whole family might be centered around the fire. 
While the mother spun, the father might have been shaping wood imple- 
ment handles or splitting short sections of logs into shingles. The fashion- 
ing of nails from iron bars heated over the fireplace, also according to 
tradition, might have been carried on by the husband.^ 

Laundry work was performed outside in pleasant weather. Water was 
heated in the fireplace or, if carried on outside, over an open fire. Mother 
and the older children carried the pails of water from the spring or brook. 


The cabin was necessarily near such a supply, if not, a well would have 
been dug. Bathing water was heated in the same way, with the bath taken 
from the bucket in sponge manner, with possibly the children placed in 

the tub. 85 

The Travelers' Home When Away From Home 

In 1771 a missionary gave a description, somewhat condensed, of his 
experiences near modern Selinsgrove. In the evening, just as his party 
was about to retire, three Irish families arrived. The owner, Caspar Reed, 
would gladly have sent them away, but it would have been a "violation 
of the laws nations." Furthermore, there was neither house nor hut 
within six miles. Reed kept a hotel, dispensed whiskey or brandy, and 
was required to furnish everyone asking for it, six feet in length and a 
foot and a half in width, on the floor of his house and also on request, 
something to eat. After considerable confusion, all retired to rest. 

Twenty odd people, cats and dogs, occupied a sleeping space in a 
room twenty feet square. This traveler found in the morning that he was 
infested with insects. He reported that he could not tell whether the shirt 
was white or black, it was so full of insects.^ 

In Berwick, Rochefoucauld-Liancourt reported that in 1795: "The 
masters of the inns where we were are young and have only established 
themselves; they are good and obliging; their house is of wood and is half 
built; the beds were rather clean, the stables good and the oats and hay 

John Brown erected a hotel in Berwick in 1804. It was noted for its 
cleanliness and neatness. ^^ There were other hotels, taverns, or public 
houses at or near the site of Fort Jenkins. One owned by Frederick Hill 
was established by 1792.^ 

Rochefoucauld-Liancourt mentions the hotel of Abram Miller near 
the site of Fort Jenkins, as existing in 1795. When the Sunbury- Wilkes 
Barre stage coach line was established there, hotels came to have a fine 
reputation. 8^ 

Several hotels were established early in Bloomsburg. "John Chamber- 
lain was a tavern-keeper at the time when every guest was expected to 
spend at least sixpence at the bar for the privilege of passing the night, 
with such comforts as the bare floor of the public room afforded. His 
establishment was a two-story frame building at the northeast corner of 
Second and Center Streets."^ 

Sometime before 1804, a log tavern was established at Slabtown.^^ 
No other hotels or public houses were known to have been established 
until later years. 


Ending of Pioneering 

In the rudimentary municipalities of Catawissa, Berwick, Blooms- 
burg, including possibly also Briar Creek and Jerseytown, a variety of 
specialized craftsmen were available. Teachers of sorts and clergymen, 
some itinerant, served the communities. Hotels also were springing up. 
Within the next decade or so, more durable buildings were to arise. 
Farther up the stream valleys, the margin between the developing set- 
tlements and the untouched wilderness was to advance farther and 
farther into the wilds. But with communities and their services distant by 
a matter of hours instead of journeys of days to Philadelphia, even these 
pioneer settlers did not have the problems of isolation of the first pio- 
neers in the region. We can say for these first comers, the pioneer 
problems were ended or made less acute. Their pioneering period was 
drawing to an end. 

1. Dunaway, A History of Pennsylvania, p. 210. 

2. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, Journey in the United States of America, pp. 136-140. 

3. Battle, History of Columbia and Montour Counties, p. 193. 

4. Battle, History of Columbia and Montour Counties, p. 154; Clark, "Pioneer Life 
in the New Purchase," Northumberland Proceedings, VII, pp. 14-19. 

5. Clark, Chester D., "Pioneer Life in the New Purchase," Northumberland Pro- 
ceedings. VII, p. 25. , 

6. Battle, op. cit., p. 154. 

7. Beers, Columbia and Montour Counties, p. 189. 

8. Battle, op. cit., p. 299; Beers, op. cit., p. 262. 

9. Battle, op. cit., p. 304. 

10. Battle, op. cit., p. 285; Beers, op. cit., p. 231. 

11. Battle, op. cit., p. 287. 

12. Bradsby, History of Luzerne County, pp. 608-612. Munsell, History of Luzerne. 
Lackawanna, and Wyoming Counties, p. 323. 

13. Battle, op. cit., p. 220. 

14. Freeze, History of Columbia County, p. 118. 

15. Battle, op. cit., pp. 224-226; The authority for this estimate is a rather ambiguous 
reference in Battle, op. cit., p. 226, from which this conservative estimate has 
been made. 

16. Battle, op. cit., pp. 237-238. 

17. Battle, op. cit., p. 265. 

18. Fithian's Journal, quoted by Wood, "Philip Vickers Fithian's Journal," Northum- 
berland Proceedings. VIII, p. 60. See also, a note by Fithian quoted by Clark, op. 
cit. The amount of wagon traffic up the North Branch shows there must have 
been passable roads by that time. See especially, quotation from Fithian's Jour- 
nal, Clark, Chester, Northumberland Proceedings, VII, p. 35. 

19. Clark, Chester, op. cit., pp. 35-36; Early Roads of County" Northumberland 
Proceedings, V, p. 112. 

20. Letter of Thomas Pickering to the Executive Council, April 5, 1787, quoted by 
Clark, "Early Roads of Northumberland County," Northumberland Proceedings, 
V, pp. 110-111. 

21 . Bishop, "Life of Evan Owen," W.P.A. Papers, file Indian Lore and Early Settlers, 
pp. 112-114, (6-8); Clark, op. cit., V, pp. 109-112. 

22. Clark, op. cit., p. 112. 

23. Battle, op. cit., p. 299; Rhodes, History of the Catawissa and Roaring Creek 
Quaker Meetings, p. 23. 


24. Battle, op. cit., p. 266. 

25. This estimate is based on Berwick land prices at this time. Rochefoucauld- 

26. Battle, op. cit., p. 261, Clark, "Pioneer Life in the New Purchase/Northumber- 
land Proceedings VII, p. 18. 

27. Battle, op. cit., p. 220. 

28. Battle, op. cit., p. 193; Clark, op. cit., VII, pp. 40-41; Fletcher, op. cit., pp. 375- 
376, 439-440; Interview with Clyde R. Luchs, special student of the log structure. 

29. Muhlenberg, Northumberland Proceedings, IX; Fithian, notes lack of privacy 
when all ages and sexes slept in the common room, Northumberland Proceed- 
ings, VIII, pp. 59-60. For local custom at Berwick, Battle, op. cit., p. 193. 

30. Battle, op. cit., p. 292. 

31. Fletcher, idem. 

32. Luchs, idem; Rhoads, op. cit., pp. 32-33. 

33. Battle, op. cit., p. 261. 

34. Battle, op. cit., pp. 226, 384, 412, 416, 496. John McHenry at Sugarloaf and Dan 
McHenry at Stillwater, were especially noted hunters. Battle, op. cit., p. 227. 

35. Battle, op. cit., p. 193. 

36. Fletcher, op. cit., pp. 68-69. 

37. Fletcher, op. cit., p. 69. 

38. Fletcher, op. cit., pp. 69-70. Family tradition. 

39. Barton, "The Susquehanna Shad"; Barton, History of Columbia County; Battle, 
op. cit., pp. 187, 275; Fletcher, op. cit., pp. 70-71. 

40. Fletcher, op. cit., p. 407. 

41. Fletcher, op. cit., p. 406. Recall that when the Whitmoyer massacre occurred, 
some of the older children had left for a maple grove to extract maple sap. Battle, 
op. cit., p. 264. 

42. Battle, op. cit., p. 226; Fletcher, op. cit., p. 72. 

43. Fletcher, op. cit., pp. 71-73. 

44. Battle, op. cit., p. 287. 

45. Battle, op. cit., pp. 185-186. 

46. Battle, op. cit., p. 185; Clark, William, Farms and Farmers, p. 29. 

47. Battle, op. cit., p. 417. 

48. Battle, op. cit., p. 248. 

49. Battle, op. cit., p. 416. 

50. Battle, op. cit., p. 395. 

51. Lightfoot, "Benjamin Lightfoot and His Account of An Expedition to Tank- 
hannick' in the Year 1770," Northumberland Proceedings, IX, p. 185. See also 
Fletcher, op. cit., p. 238. 

52. Fletcher, op. cit., p. 238. 

53. Battle, op. cit., p. 530. 

54. Comprehensive account, written about 1930: White, Hiester, V., 'The Grist 
Mills of Columbia County," was published 1974 in the Leaflet Series of the 
Columbia County Historical Society, vol. I, nos. 2, 3, 4. 

55. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, op. cit., pp. 136-140. Also see supra Rochefoucauld- 
Liancourt's account. 

56. Beers, op. cit., p. 150. 

57. Fletcher, op. cit., p. 213. 

58. Battle, op. cit., p. 362. 

59. Clark, Chester, Northumberland Proceedings, VII, pp. 36-37. 

60. Fletcher, op. cit., pp. 240-241; Battle, op. cit., p. 156; Hendrick B. Wright, 
Historical Sketches of Plymouth, Luzerne Co., Penna., pp. 320-321. 

61. Fletcher, op. cit., p. 239; Munsell, op. cit., p. 90. 

62. The official records of both churches have been used. They are not identical but 
tend to confirm each other. Additional: Battle, op. cit., p. 103; Beers, op. cit., 
pp. 141-142; Anniversary program of each church, 1957, St. Matthew Lutheran 
Church, 1957. pp. 5-6; Barton, History of Trinity Church, 1958. 

63. Beers, op. cit., p. 139. Battle, op. cit., p. 174. 


64. Battle, op. cit., p. 241. Beers, op. cit., p. 237. 

65. Beers, op. cit., pp. 227-228. 

66. Battle, op. cit., p. 189. Beers, op. cit., p. 94. 

67. Battle, op. cit., p. 189. Beers, op. cit., p. 95. 

68. Beers, op. cit., p. 94. 

69. Beers, op. cit., p. 231. 

70. Battle, op. cit., p. 202. 

71. Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, op. cit. 

72. Battle, op. cit., p. 193. Beers, op. cit., p. 150. 

73. Beers, op. cit., p. 252. 

74. Battle, op. cit., p. 232,266. 

75. Battle, op. cit., pp. 202-203. Beers, op. cit., p. 220. 

76. Battle, op. cit., p. 283. 
11. Battle, op. cit., p. 189. 

78. Battle, op. cit., p. 401. 

79. Battle, op. cit., pp. 197, 362. 

80. Fletcher, op. cit., pp. 413, 416. 

81. Fletcher, op. cit., p. 320. 

82. Fletcher, op. cit., p. 328. 

83. Fletcher, op. cit., p. 329. Clark, William, op. cit., p. 80-81. 

84. Battle, op. cit., pp. 99, 193. 

85. Beers, op. cit., p. 150. 

86. Snyder, "Charles Fisher Journal of Frederick A-C. Muhlenberg," Northumber- 
land Proceedings, IX, p. 221. 

87. Browns hotel according to Bates was the First in Berwick which is inconsistent 
with Rochefoucauld-Liancourt's record from 1795. 

88. Beers, op. cit., p. 221. 

89. Battle, op. cit., pp. 210-211. 

90. Battle, op. cit., p. 154.^ 

91. Battle, op. cit., p. 304. 

This form of shelter was often used by whites, traders, settlers, and other 

travelers. One might be found constructed previously and made to do for 

a one-night's shelter. 

William H. Shank, Indian Trails to Super Highways, p. 8, with permission of the 


Artist's conception, based on sources, of an early freighting wagon on a 
corduroy road. Such a road was constructed over soft ground. Logs were 
laid crosswise over these swampy places. 
Reference, Shank, From Indian Trails to Super Highways - with permission. 



Our Area Part of Northumberland County 

When Northumberland County was erected back in 1772, there were 
only few and widely scattered settlements in the upper Susquehanna Val- 
leys at the confluence of the North and West Branches and extending up 
these branches to the limits of settlement. The West Branch area and that 
of Wyoming to the north east were more thickly settled than the part 
that was to be Columbia County. During the periods of the first settle- 
ments of the War for Independence, and of the post-Revolutionary settle- 
ments our area was part of Northumberland County. 

New Counties Needed 

In order to transact official business at the county seat, a journey to 
Sunbury was required. From Danville or Washingtonville the distance 
was twelve to twenty miles. From the far reaches of Briar Creek or North 
Mountain journeys estimated at forty to fifty miles were required on foot 
or horseback over the rudimentary routes of the time. By 1810 the com- 
bined areas of what are now Montour and Columbia Counties from 
available evidence had increased by an estimated forty percent or more.* 

The regions west from Lewisburg and Selinsgrove, and east from 
Danville with their increasing populations, were soon demanding a more 
convenient division and a county seat closer at hand. Sunbury interests 
were opposed to further division and were able to block it for a number 
of years. The towns in the new county or counties to be created, could 
not agree among themselves where the county seat or county seats were 
to be located. This conflict prevented further division until the groups 
which were later to constitute Union County, west of the West Branch, 
and those to be in the later Columbia County, joined forces and suc- 
ceeded in establishing new counties. 

*The changing of township lines and the carving of new townships out of those 
existing make exact comparable figures impossible, but a gain of forty percent is both 
reasonable and conservative for the decade 1800 to 1810. U. S. Census for 1810. 


Advantages to a Toivn That Became County Seat 

In the case of Columbia County, Danville was very definitely forging 
ahead of all the towns between Sunbury and Wilkes-Barre. To become a 
county seat was a most attractive possibility for any town. The Judge 
and other county officers would live there or use hotel accommodations. 
Lawyers would take up their residence there. Owners of real estate, the 
town founders such as Evan Owen, Ludwig Eyer, William Hughes, 
George Espy, Christian Kunchel and William Rittenhouse, or their heirs 
and followers, could anticipate selling more lots and at higher prices. In 
fact, Kunchel and Rittenhouse in 1794, noting that their property was 
midway between two county seats already established, Wilkes-Barre and 
Sunbury, thought it was almost sure that their town, Mifflinville, would 
become a county seat. 

Leading Advocates for a New County 

William and Daniel Montgomery were among leaders in securing the 
creation of Columbia County, along with Leonard Rupert and others.* 
These persons worked for the new county and also to bring the new 
county seat to his hometown respectively. 

Erection of New Counties 

Berwick, Bloomsburg, and Danville were not so obviously the 
choices in 1813 as they would seem to us more than a century later. 
Catawissa, Mifflinville, Washington (Washingtonville), Jerseytown also 
came in for consideration. Not one of them was more than a small col- 
lection of scattered log cabins. Here and there a slightly larger 
construction, charitably called a hotel, was to be found. In 1813 the act 
creating a new county was passed, along with the creation of the com- 
panion county. Union, to the west. Patriotic fervor of the war times led 
to the naming. The name. Union, was given to the western county. In- 
spired by the then very popular song, "Hail Columbia," the name 
Columbia was assigned to the eastern county. The boundaries of Colum- 
bia extended on the west to the West Branch of the Susquehanna, exclud- 
ing, however, the region near the town of Northumberland (Point 
Township). Otherwise the area was much the same as the present com- 
bined territories of Columbia and Montour counties. 

Three "discreet and disinterested persons, not resident in the counties 
of Northumberland, Union, or Columbia," were appointed to fix the site 
of the county seat of Columbia County, "as near the geographical center 
as the situation will admit." At the meeting called for this purpose, one of 

*Danville is named for the former meaning Dan's ville. 

the three was absent, who, tradition states, favored Bloomsburg. The 
two members present gave the decision to Danville. 

Wh\/ Were the Boundary Lines Shifted Back and Forth? 

The act which assigned substantially the territories of Turbot and 
Chillisquaque Townships to the new county met with great opposition 
from their residents, and shortly after, those townships were reassigned 
to Northumberland County. The effect of this was that Danville, far 
from the geographical center of the county when created, was now 
more conspicuously than ever, at one edge rather than at the center of the 
county. But by 1816 what are now substantially Limestone and Liberty 
Townships were restored to Columbia, reducing in some measure the 
charge that Danville was not central. 

Long standing dissatisfaction with this decision was created. It was 
not solved for thirty years. The story of the struggle to overcome this 
decision, however, lies beyond the scope of this work.^ 

This account is largely drawn from Barton, History of Columbia County, pp. 
69-70 and Battle, op. cit., pp. 65-69. See also: Beers, Columbia and Montour 
Counties, chap. X; Barton, Columbia County and Its County Seats, paper pub- 
lished in the Bloomsburg Morning Press, Oct. 1952. Copies available at the 
Bloomsburg Public Library and library of the Columbia County Historical 


This path in neighboring Ricketts' Glen Park suggests appearance of 
Indian trails. 
photo by author 


Interesting Origins of 
Some Local Names 

Bloomsburg and Bloom 
See Chapter 4, p. 61. 

Briar Creek Borough and Township 

From the Indian name, Kawanishoning, the meaning is not known. 

As a conjecture, the Enghsh name may be a translation of the Indian, 

"briar" or "sweet-briar." It is sometimes spelled Caunshanank. 

Snyder, 'Township Names of Old Northumberland County," Northumberland Pro- 
ceedings, VIII, pp. 226-227; Freeze, History of Columbia County, p. 48. 


The best theory is that it is derived from Ganawese, a name applied to 
the Conoy Indian tribe, some of whom retired here after leaving Lan- 
caster County. The preferred meaning is "pure water." A less likely 
meaning is "growing fat." Before 1756 there was an Indian town located 
here called Lapachpeton's Town. This name is repeated in some deeds 
identifying the transfer of land. 
Snyder, op. cit., p. 212. 


This is the name of the chief town of the Shawnees, once located at 
the mouth of the creek of the same name. This name is found in various 
similar forms. One is in Ohio, Chill-i-co-the, once the capital of Ohio. 
Three other locations were in Ohio, others in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri, 
marking successive migrations of the Shawnees. It meant in the Shawnee 
language "man made perfect" referring to the right of this clan to rule 
their tribe. To refer to it as chilly-sqawk "has always seemed a cheap 
Snyder, op. cit., p. 213. 


Fishing Creek 

The name is a translation of the Indian name, Namescesepong 
(Delaware Indian language) meaning "fish stream" or "it tastes fishy." 
Snyder, op. cit., p. 226. 


Samuel Huntington was at one time or another the Governor of Con- 
necticut, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and President of the 
Continental Congress. The Connecticut influence in our region is per- 
petuated by the name of a mountain, a creek tributary to Fishing Creek, 
a neighboring township in Luzerne County, and the town of Huntington 

Freeze, op. cit., p. 48; Munsell, History of Luzerne, Lackawanna, and Wyoming 
Counties, p. 296; Bradsby, History of Luzerne County, Pa. p. 584. Martin & Gelber, 
New Dictionary of American History, p. 296. 


The name, Montour, is borne by a neighboring county and also by 
various other places: Montoursville in Lycoming County, Montour 
Township in Columbia County, Montour Ridge from Briar Creek west 
to the West Branch of the Susquehanna. The founder of the family was a 
"Madame Montour." According to best available evidence, which is 
meager and conflicting, she was of mixed French and Indian descent. She 
was well educated, and later captured by the Seneca Indians, by whom 
she was adopted. She later married a Seneca, who took her name. She 
became the mother of two daughters and one son, Andrew. She was 
early widowed. She came to be a matriarch, influential with Indians and 
widely respected as a counselor and interpreter in relations with the 
English and French. She was loyal to the English. Her son, Andrew Mon- 
tour, was also attached to the English and an influential leader. 
Bennett, "Madame Montour," Northumberland Proceedings, XIII, pp. 29 ff; Freeze, 
History of Columbia County, pp. 195-205; Gearhart, 'TSIotable Women of Northum- 
berland Co.," Northumberland Proceedings, V, pp. 220-221. 


This name is derived from the Munsee division of the Delaware 
Indians. It is remembered in the names of Muncy, Muncy Creek, Muncy 
Snyder, op. cit., p. 215. 


This was the name of an old Delaware Indian village and probably of 
the Susquehannocks before them. The modern village of the same name 
is located on this site in Luzerne County. Nescopeck Mountain extends 
from Black Creek in Luzerne County to Mainville in Columbia County. 
Bradsby, History of Luzerne Co., p. 608; Freeze, op. cit., p. 54. 



This township is located in Northumberland County and is part of 
the Southern Area, Columbia County School District. The name is prob- 
ably derived from Rapho (sic), County Donegal, Ireland via settlers 
coming through Rapho (sic) Township, Lancaster County. 

Snyder, The Names of Present Day Townships of Northumberland County," Nor- 
thumberland Proceedings, p. 248. 

Roaring Creek 

The Indian name was Popemetung. The series of falls and rapids near 
its confluence with the North Branch of the Susquehanna is presumed to 
have given rise to the name of which Roaring Creek is the translation. 
The name is applied to a valley, creek and township and occasionally to 
the village of Slabtown. 
Freeze, op. cit., p. 47. 

Salem Township 

Part of the town laid out by Evan Owen was found to be in Salem 
Township, Luzerne County. The whole township is part of the Berwick 
Area School District. The name is derived from the Town of Salem, 
Bradsby, op. cit., p. 642.' 


The name originally applied to the whole area within fifteen miles of 
the confluence of the North and West Branches of the Susquehanna. 
Later the name was successively applied to the Indian, white trading 
post, then to the little settlement at that place. When Northumberland 
County was erected in 1772, the County seat was placed at this point, but 
the name was changed to Sunbury. The creek continued to bear the name 
Shamokin. The coal mining community twenty miles or so up this 
stream, at a later time, adopted the name. A probable meaning is the 
place where the chief lives. 
Snyder, "Old Northumberland," pp. 202 ff. 


This name is derived from the Delaware Indian name. At one time it 
applied to the whole region as far southwest as Bloomsburg. The rend- 
ering of the Indian name is M'cheowami, "extensive flats" or 
M'cheoweami-sipu, "the river of the extensive flats." 
Snyder, op. cit., pp. 210-211. 


— <M m 




Bibliographical Notes 

A History of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania, edited by 
J. H. Battle; published by A. Warner & Co., 1887; John Morris Com- 
pany, Printers. This is an invaluable work, although subject occasionally 
to correction or supplementing. It is actually three books in one, each 
with its own individual pagination. First comes an excellent, summary 
history of Pennsylvania: Part I, History of Pennsylvania, by Samuel P. 
Bates. It is cited as Bates, History of Pennsylvania. 

Part II, History of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania, 
]. H. Battle, Editor. This part, however, does not include the history of 
Montour County, which follows in Part III. It is cited generally as Battle, 
ed.. History of Columbia and Montour Counties, although occasionally 
the brief form of Battle, History of Columbia County, may be used 

Part III, History of Montour County, by H. C. Bradsby. Cited as 
Bradsby, History of Montour County. 

The Northumberland Historical Society has published twenty-six 
volumes of Proceedings containing articles and papers generally with 
high standards of scholarship. These constitute an invaluable treasury of 
local historical information, which has been drawn on extensively for 
this work. Notations are in the form of author's name, title of the article, 
Northumberland Proceedings, volume and page. 

In the late 1930's the Works Progress Administration through its 
Writers' Project for Columbia County, produced thirty-six volumes of 
articles and abstracts, some of which are of great value. Sets of these col- 
lections are at libraries of Bloomsburg State College, Andruss Library, 
the Berwick Public Library, the Bloomsburg Public Library, the Library 
of the Columbia County Historical Society. Citations are made to 
author, title of article, paper number in particular collection identified by 
volume title, W. P. A. Series. 



Barton, Elisha, acquired land in 

Beach, Nathan, captured, 28; joined 
garrison at Fort Jenkins in skirmish, 
28; rescued settlers taken prisoner, 29 

Bear Gap travel route, 51 

Beaver region settlement, 54 

Benton 1799, 72 

Berwick, laid out as Owensburg, 57; 
town plan, 58; lot prices, 58; grants 
land to church groups, 58; descrip- 
tions, 1795, 64, 68 

Bloomsburg, 11; early settlers, 12, 13, 
15, 16, 70, 71; town plan, 61; name, 
61; history of its land ownership with 
note **, 61 

Briar Creek, 9; early settlers 69 

Brown, John and Robert, early Berwick 
settlers, 59; gave name of Berwick-on- 
Tweed, 59; opened hotel, 96 

Brugler, Peter, 56 

Cabinet and furniture maker, 94 

Cabins (see log cabin) 

Catawissa, vii, 9, 13; ferry at, 13; 
people at, 14; people settle at, 14; 
Quaker meeting at, 14, 51; laid out, 
51; center of boat traffic, 51; center of 
Quaker movement, 51; Meeting 
House, 52; size, 71 

Catawissa Creek, 3, 9, 15 

Catawissa Mountain, 13 

Cayugas, ix, 20 

Center Township, early settlers, 60; 
Cabin Run area, 63 

Center Turnpike, 75 

Chamberlain Hotel, 96 

Chillisquaque Creek, 14, 21 

churches, at Bloomsburg, 70 

Clayton, Thomas, member of Com- 
mittee of Safety, 17 

Columbia County, ix; area and popu- 
lation 1800, 74; distribution, 74; for- 
mation of, 101; need of new county, 
101; advantages of county seat town, 
102; erection of Union County, 102; 
erection of Columbia County, 102; 
choosing name, 102; dissatisfaction 
with Danville as county seat, 103 

commerce, 88 

Committee of Safety (Revolutionary 
War) for our region, 17; Thomas 
Clayton, 17; Peter Melick, 17; James 
McClure, 17 

Conestoga Indians, massacre of, 12 

Connecticut Claim, 7, 9; migration 
from, 10; Indian opposition to, 10; 
Pennsylvania opposition to, 10; final 
settlement, 11; results, 11; Connecti- 
cut township at Fishing Creek, 12; 
Yankee and Pennamites in Revolu- 
tion, 11, 34 

Conoys, vii 

Cooper and cooperage, picture, 93; 
products, 94 

Cornwallis' surrender, 16, 43 

Covenhoven's arms, 39 

Covenhoven, Robert, report on Great 
Runaway, 25 

"Dall", The, 56 

Declaration of Independence, 16 

Delawares, vii, 1, 20; war dance, 32; 

1780 attacks, 36 
Durham boats, 89 

early settlers, 7; Quaker settlers at 
Roaring Creek, 51 

education, 90; first schools, 90; sub- 
scription schools, 91; school houses, 
91; at Berwick, 92; school books, 91; 
teachers, 92 

Espy, Josiah, buys land, 13 

Eves, John, 14; settled at Little Fishing 
Creek, 14; purchased land, 15; flight 
after Battle of Wyoming, 35, 73 

explorations, 2, 3 

Eyer (see Oucr) 

Eyer, Ludwig, lays out town of 

famine, dangers of, 84 

farm products, increase of, 84 

fence making, picture, 70 

Fishing Creek, 3; settlements at, 9, 57; 
headwaters and Indian base, 35; vari- 
ous meanings, 52 note; 67 note; slow 
growth of area after Revolutionary 
War, 60; rapid growth of area before 
Revolutionary War, 75 


fishing friction with Indians at Cata- 

wissa, 43 

Five Nations (see Iroquois) 
food from Wilds, deer, 81; bears, 81; 

turkeys, 81; wild pigeons, 81; shad 

and other fish, 82; honey, 83; maple 

sugar, 83 
forts (see under full name as Fort Stan- 

wix), constructed, 21 
Fort Augusta, 21 
Fort Bosley's Mills, 21 
Fort Freeland, picture and description, 

20, 21; attacked, 29 
Fort Jenkins, 20, 21; attacked 1779, 28 

& 1780, 36; destroyed, 1780, 40 
Fort McClure, built, homestead, 42 
Fort Montgomery (see Fort Rice) 
Fort Rice, 21; attack repulsed, 1780, 40 
Fort Stanwix, Treaty of, ix, 1 
Fort Wheeler, 21; built, 22; first attack, 

23; second attack, 23 
Franklin Township, early settlements, 

freighting wagon on a corduroy road, 

picture, 100 
Friends (see Quakers) 
frontier, location of, v, vii; Le Tort's 

report of conditions, 1; attractiveness 

of, 4 
frontier warfare, 1779, 28, 29; 1780, 35; 

preparatory hunting by Indians at 

headwaters of Fishing and Muncy 

Creeks, 35; base of operations there, 

35; attacks by Delawares and Senecas, 

36; scouts' armament, 39 
fur traders, 1 
Furry incident at Catawissa 1782, 43 

Gangawese (see Conoys) 

Godhard, John, led large party of 

settlers to North Mountain area, 63 
good land, signs of, 63 
Great Runaway, The, 24; Coven- 

hoven's report on, 25 
Great Shamokin Path, 75 
Great Warriors Path, trail, 61 
Greenwood Valley, early settlers, 73 
gypsum for fertilizer, 54 

Hartley's expedition, 28 

Hartmans, early settlers at Catawessa, 
13, 15 

Haynes, Reuben, speculator, 15 

Hemlock, early settlers, 56 

Hidlay, Henry, settled North Center 
Township, 60 

Hill, Frederick, purchased land cover- 
ing Fort Jenkins site, 60; first hotel, 60 

homestead, pioneer's, picture and 

descriptions, 69 
hotels and lodging, 60, 67, 68, 70, 96 
Hughes, Ellis, 13, 14 
Hughes, William, lays out Catawissa, 

Hunter, Samuel, 15; commandant at 

Sunbury, 22; orders attack on Tories, 

24; ordered settlements to be 

Huntington Creek, 3 
Huntington, Samuel, 11 

immigration, causes, 4 

indentured servants, 5 

Independence, War for (see Revolu- 
tion, American) 

Indians (see special tribal names), 
negotiations for Indian Alliance, 19; 
Indian allies, Mohawks, Onondaguas, 
Cayugas, Senecas, Delawares, Shaw- 
nees, 20; American supporters, Tusca- 
roras, Oneidas, 20; last troubles with, 
43; trails, 48 

intercolonial wars, ix 

Iroquois (Iroquois Confederacy or Five 
Nations, after 1711 Six Nations), vii 

Jerseytown, name, 73; early settlers, 
73; access to from West Branch, 77 

John, Isaac, 15, 54 

journey to frontier, 17; by Daniel 
McHenry, 79 

Kline, Adam, led settlement to Knob 

Mountain region, 62, 64 
Knob Mountain region, early settlers, 

62; Adam Kline leads settlers, 62, 64 
Kunchel, John, helped lay out Mifflin- 

ville, 54 

Lancastrian migration to Wyoming, 12 
land purchasing in colonial Pennsyl- 
vania, 3 
land speculation, 5-8 
leather and leather workers, 92 
Lehigh Nescopeck Highway, 75 
Lenni Lenape (see Delawares) 
Le Tort, James, reports on frontier con- 
ditions, 1 
Liebensthal, see "The Dall" 
Lightfoot, Benjamin, 9 
Lightstreet settlements, 64 
log house, 80 


log structures, pictures and text, 46, 55, 
69; John Freas' cabin, 69, 70, 80; Isaac 
John's cabin, 54; Quaker Meeting 
House in Catawissa, 52; Roaring 
Creek Meeting House, 53; construc- 
tion of cabins, 79; furnishings, 94, 95 

Long House, in diagram, ix 

Lyon Cooper incident at Bloomsburg, 

Maclay, William, report on Wyoming 
flight, 27 

Mainville Gap, early settlements, 54 

map, L. E. Wilt, 6, 7 

maple sugar, 68 

Melick, Peter, settler above Fishing 
Creek, 16; member Committee of 
Safety, 17 

merchants and merchandising, 88 

metheglin, 83 

Mifflin region, Windbigler family mas- 
sacre, 29; routes to, 54, 71; early 
settlers, 54; Mifflinville laid out, 54; 
town plan, 54 

Mifflinville-Nescopeck Highway from 
Catawissa, 76 

Miller, Abram, settler, 60; built hotel. 
South Center, 60, 96; township region 
description, 60, 67 

mills, grain grinding by mortar and 
pestle, 85; growth of grist mills, 85; 
conversion to saw mills, 85; con- 
version to plaster mills, 87 

Millville (see Greenwood) 

Mohawks, ix, 20 

Montour Township, early settlers, 56 

Morris, Robert, 8 

Muncy Creek, headwaters and Indian 
base, 35 

Munsees, viii 

McCauley, Alexander, 8 
McClure's Fort (see Fort McClure) 
McClure, James, at Fishing Creek, 9, 

12; purchases land, 13; builds cabin, 

13; became leader, 13; son, 13; 

member Committee of Safety, 17, 22 
McClure, James, Mrs., flight after 

Wyoming Battle, 26 
McHenry, Daniel, 64, 79 

names, Bloomsburg, 61; Catawissa, 
103; Chillisquaque, 103; Fishing 
Creek, 106; Muncy, 106; Ralpho, 107; 
Roaring Creek, 107: Salem Township, 
107; Shamokin, 107; Wyoming, 107 

Nanticokes, vii 

Nescopeck, 9; early settlements, 72; 

access routes, 72 
Nesquaspeck (see Nescopeck) 

"New Purchase " of 1768, ix, 3 
North Mountain region, early settlers, 

Northumberland County, erection of, 


occupations, home in cabin, 95 

Onandagas, ix, 20 

Oneidas, ix, 20 

Owen, Evan, descent, 57; settlement 
near Fishing Creek, 57; transferred 
interest to region of Nescopeck Falls 
region; lays out Owensburg (Owens- 
ville), 57; became real estate manager 
and dealer, 58, 75; built Lehigh Nesco- 
peck road, 59, 75; moved family to 
Berwick and became leading citizen, 
59; as justice allotted meat from every 
bear killed, 81 

Oyer, 61 and note* 

Oyer, John Adam, purchased site of 
Bloomsburg, 61 

Oyerstown (Eyerstaltel), 62 

pack horses, 49; picture, 50 

Paxtang Boys, 12 

Peace, Treaty of, 16 

Pence, Peter, taken prison, escape with 
Moses VanCampen, 36 

Penn, William, 3 

Pennsylvania's war difficulties, 33; 
settlers' hardships, 33; patrolling fron- 
tier difficult, 33; soldiers' pay small, 
34; much of war fought in Pennsyl- 
vania, 34; prisoners kept in Pennsyl- 
vania, 34; Yankee Pennamite friction, 
35; Tories, 35; divisions, 35 

Pensil, John incident, 34 

Pike, Abrahm, captured with Van- 
Campen and escape, 36 

pioneer life, 55, 69, 11 

Piscataway, vii 

Pontiac's Rebellion, ix 

prices and wages, 67 

proprietors (see William Penn, son's 
of), 3 

Quakers, came to Catawissa, 14; on 
Little Fishing Creek, 14; Quaker 
"Meeting", meaning of, 14; at Roaring 
Creek, 19; harassment of, 41; Moses 
Roberts and Job Hughes imprisoned, 
42; wives turned out of homes at 
Catawissa, 42; Meeting House at 
Catawissa with picture, 52; decline of 
at Catawissa, 52; heritage, 53; suc- 
cessors to, 53; meeting at Berwick, 58 


quitrents, 3 

Reading Road, 76 

redemptioner (see indentured servant) 

religious developments, Quakers, 89; 
Lutherans and Reformeds at Blooms- 
burg; Episcopalians at Bloomsburg; 
St. Gabriel's at the north 

Revolution, American, 16, 19 

Revolution, opening battles at Lexing- 
ton and Concord, 18 

Rittenhouse, helped lay out Mifflin- 
ville, 54 

river transportation route, 59, 75; 
hazards, 64 

roads, access to Northwestern part of 
country, 71 

Roaring Creek, 9; Quakers at, 15; 
Quaker meeting at, 51; early settlers 
(see also Slabtown), 71 

Roberts, Moses, 13; Govenor's mission, 
14; reports people at Catawissa, 14; 
built house at Catawissa, 14, 15; im- 
prisonment as suspected Tory, 42 

Rochefoucauld-Liancourt, Journey in 
United States of America, quoted, 67 

Rupert, Leonard, settlement, 53, 54; 
Dutch Valley, settlements, 71 

Safety, Committee of (see Committee 

of Safety) 
Scotch-Irish settlers, 11 
Senecas, ix, 20; attacks 1780, 36 
settlements, obstructions to removed, 

settlers, early, Beaver (McCauley), 15; 

Main (Isaac John), 15; near Fishing 

Creek, 16; Cabin Run area, 16; Chil- 

lisquaque headwaters, 16 
Shamokin, 11 
Shawnees, viii, 20 
Shelters, picture, 49; lean-to with 

picture, 99 
Six Nations (see Iroquois) 
Slabtown, 53, 71, 87; hotel, 96 
Smith, Captain John, vii 
speculators, 5; Robert Morris, 8; James 

Wilson, 8; Reuben Haines, 15 
squatters, 4, 8 
Stamp Act, 16 
Stewart, Lazarus, leader at Battle of 

Wyoming; killed 
Stewart, Lazarus, Mrs., escape from 

Wyoming, 26 
Sullivan expedition, 29; assembled at 

Wilkes-Barre, 29; defeated Indians at 

Newtown; ravaged Seneca country, 

29; results inconclusive, 33 

Sunbury, 11 

surveying the land, 4 

Susquehanna lands, interest revived, 51 

Susquehanna River, 9 

Susquehannocks, vii 

Thirteen Fires, 20 

timber floated by stream, 77 

tomahawk, with picture, 26 

Tories, captured by VanCampen, 24; 

numbers in Pennsylvania and our 

region, 34, 35; among Quakers, 41 
transportation, freight and passenger, 

88; to Catawissa, 14, 76; to Berwick, 

travel, difficulties of, 47, 48; routes by 

river, 51, 68; route to Catawissa via 

Little and Catawissa Mountains, 51; 

to grist mills, 85 
tree felling, picture, 70 
trencherman, note 94 
Trenton, Decree of, 11 
Tuscuroras, viii, ix, 20 

Upper Fishing Creek, early settlers, 63 

VanCampen, Cornelius, 21 

VanCampen, Moses, childhood and 
early training, 21, 22; joins armed 
forces, 22; ordered to build Fort 
Wheeler, 22; defends Fort Wheeler, 
22, 23; capture of Tories; detached 
service during attack on. Wyoming; 
aided Sullivan expedition as quarter- 
master, 30; scouted the army's ad- 
vance, 30; led advance at Battle of 
Newtown, 30; suffered camp fever, 
30; taken prisoner and escaped, 36; 
expedition against Tory settlement, 
41; builds Fort McClure, 42; attacked 
Indian marauding party, 42; 1782 
captured on detached service, ex- 
changed, 44; last service at Wilkes- 
Barre, 44; discharged, 44; married 
Margaret, daughter of widow of 
James McClure, 59; managed Mc- 
Clure farm, 59; later farmed near 
Briar Creek, 59; moved to Almond, 
N.Y., 60; eminent career, 60; became 
major in militia, note 60 

VanCampen tragedy, 36 

wage level, 3 

war in the Susquehanna region, 20 

Washingtonville, 21 

West Branch of the Susquehanna, 

attacks on, 24 
Whigs, 34 


Whitmore (see Whitmoyer) 
Whitmoyer (Whitmore) tragedy, 38 
Wild animals, dangers from bears, 

panthers, wolves; destruction of game 

and fish, 84 
Wilson, James, 8 

Windbigler family massacre, 29 
Wyoming Battle and Massacre, 25; 

flight of survivors, 26; Maclay's 

report on, 27 
Wyoming Valley, invaded, 25 

The rugged rapids in this stream suggest its name of Roaring Creek. 
photo by author 


Gleanings from the Author's Card Fil( 

Connecticut Claim 

In earlier times, the forty-first parallel of latitude, the southern boundary 
of the Connecticut claim, was thought to be at the mouth of Fishing 
Creek. Recent surveys have shown it to be about a mile farther north. 
The map on pages 108 and 109 shows it approximately at what was con- 
sidered the earlier location in colonial days. 


The early settlers were plagued with floods. The earliest recorded 
were in 1744, 1758, 1772. No record of the high water marks have been 
found. It should be noted that about 1772, Evan Owen began disposing 
of his properties in the Fishing Creek area and transferred his interests to 
the Nescopeck Falls region. In October of 1787 there were several days of 
incessant rain. "The water rose rapidly and swept all before it." Several 
persons were drowned near modern Rupert. Northumberland and Sun- 
bury were overflowed and there was much loss of life. The fields of 
pumpkins up-river were flooded and the pumpkins were carried down in 
such great numbers that it was called "the great pumpkin- flood". The 
next great flood was in 1800. The record stresses that the floods up to this 
time had been fourteen years apart. So when another record tells about a 
flood about 1784 that rose to "unprecedented heights" we are forced to 
conclude that this must have been the pumpkin flood. It was this flood, 
whichever the date it was, which led the Cleavers to abandon their plans 
for settling on the north side of the river and instead choose the higher 
land on the south side. They became the founding settlers of Franklin 
Township, as previously recounted. 

Battle, History of Columbia and Montour Counties, p. 285; Bradsby, History of 
Montour County, p. 95. 

Presbyterian Beginnings 

Henry Hidlay in 1796 donated an acre of land to the trustees of the 
Briar Creek Presbyterian society for a house of worship, which was con- 
structed shortly after. 
Battle, History of Columbia County, p. 212. 


Law and Order 

Our area was part of Northumberland County with the County Seat 
at Sunbury from 1772 until 1913. In the Quarter Sessions Docket for 
1780, Spring Term, p. 185, we can read: "Larceny, True Bill. Elizobeth 
Wild, a true bill To receive 15 lashes on her bare back, Oct. 2, next." 
Other entries are to be found. This is the only case of a woman being 
made to suffer. The phrase, "well laid on", usually occurring in the sent- 
ence of the judge, does not seem to have been used in this case. 

Land Rush 

On the third of April, 1768, the first day possible following the New 
Purchase at Fort Stanwix, two thousand applications for land surveys 
were made. 
Bradsby, History of Montour County, p. 18. 

Prior to 1768, Indians had permitted no invasion by whites of these 
lands except by traders, trappers, and hunters. 

Trades and Occupations 

How did the town people earn their living in the early towns? A list of 
crafts and occupations at Berwick in the early 1800's should be represen- 
tative of the occupations in these towns generally. The list includes: 
tailor, chair-maker, tinner, carpenters, cooper, blacksmith, cloth dyer, 
butcher, weaver, cabinet-maker, saddler, wheel-wright, milliner, gun- 
smiths, silver smith. 
Battle, History of Columbia County, p. 197. 


Alexander Aikman about 1780, sold 600 acres of land for Conti- 
nental currency. It became so depreciated that it equaled in value a mere 
thirty yards of tow cloth, a course, low value type of fabric. 
Battle, History of Columbia and Montour Counties, p. 412. 

Phillip Maus of Philadelphia, later a settler in neighboring Danville, 
expended large sums of his own gold coin for raw materials with which 
he manufactured clothing for the army. He took his payment in Conti- 
nental currency, which eventually became valueless. Baskets of this cur- 
rency were in the family's collection for years, according to a record of 
Bradsby, History of Montour County, p. 13. 



This book was printed on 

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March 1976